Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wayne's White House Adventure Today: President Publicly Thanks Goodwin For Historic Insurance Refunds

Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina's Insurance Commissioner, had quite the adventure on September 22.

On the heels of his joint announcement with Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Brad Wilson two days ago, the state insurance chief responded to a request from the White House to travel to Washington, D.C., to discuss the $155.8 Million in refunds to 215,000 North Carolinians and the additional savings of $14 Million in health insurance rate reductions.

While heading into the neighboring Eisenhower Executive Office Building, he was surprised to be asked to participate in a press briefing with President Obama as a direct result of the refund news.

Goodwin also briefed approximately 35 other states' insurance commissioners on how BCBSNC and he accomplished their agreement.

Further, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius - former Kansas insurance commissioner and Governor - praised Goodwin and North Carolina for such great news for Tar Heel consumers. For the occasion she asked him to sit near the front of the President's conference room.

Goodwin's most excellent adventure concluded as he was whisked to the West Wing of the White House, where he then proceeded to provide a press briefing to a bevy of national reporters and TV cameras. Coverage appeared in multiple national media outlets and various political pundit blogs, etc.

The Raleigh News & Observer published an article about the day's activity. Entitled "Goodwin Basks in Spotlight of White House," reporter Alan Wolfe wrote:
Thanks to "providential" timing, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin was the center of attention at the White House today.

During a meeting of state insurance commissioners and Obama administration officials, the biggest buzz was Monday's news of Goodwin's agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. The health insurer plans to refund customers $155.8 million and raise rates less than expected.

President Obama mentioned it several times as an example of the federal health overhaul spurring positive results for consumers. He also thanked Goodwin for his work with Blue Cross and told the group: "Well done, Wayne."

"I've met presidents before, but I've never been singled out by first name at the White House," Goodwin said by phone from the Washington airport.

"It's been a pretty good week for a farm boy from Hamlet," he added. "It was thrilling, informative and surreal all at the same time

Goodwin, who isn't up for reelection until 2012, said the timing of Monday's announcement with Blue Cross was coincidental with the White House event to mark the six months since the health reform law passed.
The Raleigh article continued:
"The timing was just providential. I'm just proud that North Carolina and Blue Cross both were recognized as leaders in protecting consumers."

Goodwin also held a press briefing on the steps outside the West Wing this afternoon. Insurance commissioners from other states continue to ask him how he orchestrated the deal with Blue Cross and whether they can negotiate similar agreements.

"This is a great win for consumers and for state-based regulation," Goodwin said.
Goodwin's hometown newspaper, the Richmond County Daily Journal, had this to say:

"(Today) is the next major benchmark on health care reform implementation, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners was asked to meet with the president and his cabinet members to discuss it,” Goodwin said. “This was a bi-partisan effort, and I was able to voice some of my concerns about how important it is maintain the role of the states in regulating insurance for the consumers of America.”

Wednesday’s White House meeting came on the heels of an announcement Monday Goodwin and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina reached an agreement to refund $155.8 million to more than 215,000 individual policyholders in the state.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Goodwin said Obama lauded the effort and referred to Goodwin in a familiar tone.

“Wayne, well done,” Goodwin quoted the president.

CNN referenced Insurance Commissioner Goodwin in its news coverage that evening, saying:
... Some noted that meeting timelines for changes in the legislation would cost states significant resources, while the commissioner from North Carolina cited a benefit. Policies carrying excess contract reserves have been renegotiated at lower rates, bringing cost savings to participants, said the official, Wayne Goodwin.
The refund is a result of the White House’s health care reform, the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and is equivalent to more than 1.5 months of premiums. For the average policyholder, this means about $690.
That's not only quite a pleasant Christmas present and economic stimulus for North Carolinians, but significant enough to prompt an excellent White House adventure for this elected state insurance regulator!

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