Issues - Affordable Health Care - Dan Blue for NC Senate

Affordable Health Care


Making health care available, accessible and affordable

Over the last year, our nation has wrestled with the issues related to rising health care costs and the costs of the uninsured.  The debate and the issue affect us here in North Carolina: the North Carolina Institute of Medicine estimates that in 2009 there were 1.75 million uninsured North Carolinians under age 65.

Months of debate and effort resulted in federal health care reform legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Act, both enacted in March 2010) which extend health care coverage to the uninsured.  In 2010, the General Assembly passed the Appropriations Act of 2010, which included several provisions to begin implementing health care reform and make health care coverage available and affordable.

These sweeping changes are tremendous and will be implemented over time, but there are a few small changes here in North Carolina that merit individual attention:

  1. We required the State Health Plan and health insurers regulated by the Commissioner of Insurance to cover hearing aid equipment for individuals up to age 22.  This legislation was aimed primarily at children who suffer a hearing deficiency and would not otherwise develop necessary speech skills without the assistance of a hearing aid device.
  2. We required the State Health Plan and health insurers regulated by the Commissioner of Insurance to cover the diagnosis and treatment of Lymphedema, a swelling condition that can adversely affect individuals including women who have had surgery to treat breast cancer.
  3. We passed legislation to allow teachers and state employees to cover children as dependents for which the employee is designated as a court-ordered guardian.

Health care is a basic need and I will continue to fight for legislation and policies that protect patients and consumers, that make health care more affordable to private individuals, and that make health care more affordable for the public.

Key Committees
  • Finance Committee
  • Committee on Employee Hospital and Medical Benefits
  • Blue Ribbon Task Force on the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees
Key Legislation
  • Voted to prohibit health care insurers from certain practices intended to delay, deny or cancel insurance coverage (such as pre-existing conditions)
  • Voted to limit the variations in premium cost that health insurers can charge based on age, location and tobacco use
  • Voted to mandate coverage for individuals participating in clinical trials
  • Voted to establish minimum benefits that must be offered to ensure comprehensive insurance coverage
Results
  • Helped working families with health insurance costs (adding 11,750 more kids to a program for working parents who make too much to qualify for Medicaid)
  • Increased access to prescription drugs for the poor
  • Funded grants to provide medical care to low-income and uninsured people
  • Funded rural hospitals
  • Stabilized and reformed the state health plan, reducing costs to the state and increasing transparency
  • Required the State Health Plan and health insurers to cover hearing aid equipment for individuals up to age 22
  • Required the State Health Plan and health insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of Lymphedema
  • Allowed state employees and teachers serving as court-ordered guardians for children to cover those children as dependents under their coverage