The North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce – in conjunction with many sponsors, including Bank of America, Progress Energy, S&A Cherokee, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives,
and Duke Energy Corporation – offered a program today providing the first outlook for North Carolina business in the new year.
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and many State officials and other business leaders converged at the Progress Energy Performing Arts Center for the daylong Raleigh program. This is the eighth year such a program has been held.
The packed audience heard from a unique panel of experts.
First, attendees listened to observations and valuable information from Secretary of Health and Human Services, Lanier Cansler. His comments, including how some parts of our health system rely on 1970s (!) information technology, prefaced the morning session about health care reform and the pending health insurance legislation in the U.S. Congress.
Many in the audience next awaited comments from Brad Wilson of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, who is the incoming CEO of BCBSNC. Joining him in analyzing the health insurance reform legislation were the Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, the CEO of Coldwell Banker Commercial Trademark Properties, Duke University’s Chancellor for Health Affairs, and the Senior Vice President of GlaxoSmithKline.
In addition to the overall analysis of the proposed Congressional health insurance reforms, state Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin noted how each of the panelists stressed that an “individual mandate” was necessary, how the mandate language needed sharper teeth to ensure the largest pool of insureds and lowest costs for consumers, and how the benefits of a strong mandate for health insurance are akin to the public policy behind mandatory automobile insurance that’s been long in force for North Carolina drivers.
Wilson’s description of a “progressive plutocracy” in North Carolina was very interesting to members, prompting several to mention it in the hallways afterward. He stated that business leaders in the State have most often throughout its history advanced measures that benefited public education, public health, and the general citizenry.
He also emphatically underscored how – despite all the animus and frenetic activity in all directions about health insurance and the like over the past year – the State’s future looked bright and positive, so long as North Carolina and its leaders stayed true to that visionary heritage. He said that opportunities abound for good things to happen for all North Carolinians.
After two hours of networking during lunch, an even larger crowd gathered for speeches about North Carolina’s economic forecast.
Given that it was his first day on the job, the remarks from the new President and CEO of Bank of America, Brian T. Moynihan, were greatly anticipated.
Following reflections from Governor Elizabeth Duke of the Federal Reserve System, business leaders and public officials heard the forecast – good and bad – from economist John Connaughton of UNC-Charlotte.
All in all, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin found the program beneficial.
“As Insurance Commissioner, I know that the health insurance debate and our economic rebound depend in part on the work of the state insurance regulator. For that reason, I had my Chief Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, and Legislative Counsel join me in attending today’s successful and enlightening forum.”The Department of Insurance and your Insurance Commissioner are committed not only to consumer protection but also to North Carolina's economic rebound.