Friday, April 30, 2010

Goodwin, Price & Etheridge Address NC Black Leadership Summit on Health Insurance Reform

Congressman David Price, Congressman Bob Etheridge, and NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin participated in a special panel yesterday about the newly-enacted health insurance reform law.

Appearing at the request of The Alliance of Black Elected Officials, the state officials each gave a 10-minute opening statement and then took questions from the audience at The Black Summit 2010.

The federal lawmakers addressed the new law from their point-of-view, expressing the high points of the historic legislation and why they voted in favor of it.

Congressman Price spoke about several key provisions, including how unlike recent programs in the prior Bush administration that this one is paid for as it goes (also known as "Pay-Go").

Congressman Etheridge answered a question about why the health care reform bill passed now as contrasted to any other prior time. To that end, the Lillingon lawmaker gave a brief history lesson: Etheridge explained how Republican President Teddy Roosevelt had first proposed universal health insurance approximately over 100 years ago, and how time and time again the effort in various incarnations failed during the administrations of FDR, Truman, Nixon and Clinton. Unlike when Clinton tried, President Obama was a duly-elected President with a true majority vote of the persons voting, the first Democrat in 44 years to have that accomplishment. "Elections do matter, and President Obama had a mandate," said Etheridge.

NC Insurance Commissioner Goodwin used his time to address matters from a different angle: He focused on how he, the Department of Insurance, and the State will be implementing the new law.
"There are some very tight deadlines in place, and I'm going to do everything possible to make sure that North Carolina meets those deadlines so as many citizens as possible gain the benefits of health insurance and the actual savings in their family budgets," said Commissioner Goodwin. "If North Carolina's officials take the lead on this issue, then it prevents the federal government from stepping in and running the insurance exchanges and the high risk insurance pool and other things itself."
In some instances the "magic date" is September 23, 2010, and in others it is in 2013 and 2014.

Regardless, state lawmakers and other North Carolina officials will be deliberating upon and taking action on various components of the new health insurance law in 2010, 2011, 2012, and in 2013.

Insurance Commissioner Goodwin also reported how internally within the Department there are weekly and bi-weekly planning meetings, and that there are frequent implementation sessions with the Governor's office, legislative and executive branch leaders, and state insurance regulators across the country.
"Because of twin issues over the last eighteen months involving health insurance reforms and needed consumer financial protections in the banking and securities industries, my Department and I have had more interaction with our Congressional delegation than all of my Insurance Commissioner predecessors combined."
Before the panel discussion came to a close, Goodwin stressed how to watch out for insurance fraud from unscrupulous persons who may try to take advantage of persons during this transitional period. "If something sounds too good to be true, then - guess what? - it probably is," Goodwin said, regarding circumstances if purported insurance agents or fake companies try to hawk products labeled "Obamacare" or other fictitious services. He referenced the audience to for additional tips and answers to frequently asked questions.

The event took place at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel in Raleigh.

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