The State of NC Healthcare

A talk in the park

Posted in Reform-in-progress, The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 30 October 2008

I had an interesting conversation with a young friend the other morning. She’s a pharmaceutical sales rep with one of the bigger drug companies. I was very impressed with her friendliness and willingness to talk about the healthcare situation in NC and the US.

We met on a park bench while our little ones (her two small children and my one grandson) played nearby. As our conversation broadened, the topic of healthcare surfaced. We talked about the cost of important life-saving drugs and health insurance, the effect of generics on the profits that support further research and development of new treatments and drugs, and the difficulties of high-risk individuals in affording health insurance coverage.

She asked me which presidential candidate I believed had the better healthcare reform plan. While I certainly appreciated her inquisitiveness and interest, I was more impressed with her willingness to ditch partisan politics and get down to the nitty-gritty of reality: Neither McCain or Obama’s health plans are a miracle cure for America’s ailing healthcare culture. Our individual experiences, when gently juxtaposed in the park, exposed the false security in political-driven reform (regardless of which critter–a donkey or elephant–pulls the cart).

That conversation was a breath of fresh air. 

The increasing number of negative political campaign ads had put me in a funk. With Election Day less than a week away, those negative ads become downright insulting–desperate in their appeal to those voters guided by emotions rather than information when marking their ballots. And with the current economic crisis, the healthcare crisis, and the war in Iraq, emotions are quite vulnerable to the toxicity of negative campaign ads.

The talk in the park accomplished a lot. It’s that kind of exchange that, perhaps, influences the potential for change most significantly. Simple sharing and talking about the state of healthcare and the need for reform is more encouraging to the American people than a public brawl between political parties. I am reminded that not one single advancement in the American healthcare culture has come about by bashing political opponents.

I get it.
My young friend gets it.
So why can’t candidates for public office get it?

Maybe they need to have a talk in the park.

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McCain’s prepared remarks re: healthcare

Posted in Political Health, The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 19 October 2008

From: The Ballot  News (and everything else) on the 2008 Presidential and N.C. elections:

McCain’s prepared remarks, Concord NC, 18 October 2008 —

I will freeze government spending on all but the most important programs like defense, veterans care, Social Security and health care until we scrub every single government program and get rid of the ones that aren’t working for the American people. And I will veto every single pork barrel bill Congresses passes.

If I’m elected President, I won’t fine small businesses and families with children, as Senator Obama proposes, to force them into a new huge government run health care program, while he keeps the cost of the fine a secret until he hits you with it. I will bring down the skyrocketing cost of health care with competition and choice to lower your premiums, and make it more available to more Americans. I’ll make sure you can keep the same health plan if you change jobs or leave a job to stay home.

I will provide every single American family with a $5000 refundable tax credit to help them purchase health care insurance. Workers who already have insurance from their employers will keep it and have more money to cover costs. Workers who don’t have health insurance can use it to find policy anywhere in this country to meet their basic needs.

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Healthcare Professionals on Healthcare Reform

Posted in NC Healthpress, The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 19 October 2008
The Public Knows the Candidates’ Views on Healthcare Reform, But Do the Candidates Know What Healthcare Professionals Think?
“ASHEVILLE, N.C., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ — Senator McCain believes it to be a responsibility; Senator Obama, a right. While both candidates believe that healthcare reform is a high priority, they disagree on the methods necessary to fix this problem. But do they know which plan physicians support? A new study from DoctorDirectory of more than 900 physicians of all specialties was designed to assess attitudes on universal healthcare as it relates to the upcoming election.” [Read more]

NC high-risk health insurance pool enrollment opens

Posted in NC health insurance, Reform-in-progress by writemyline on 18 October 2008

The News & Observer reports that open enrollment for NC’s high-risk health insurance pool begins Monday, October 20. [See New state health plan opens Monday] Additionally, folks who are interested about the guaranteed coverage program can find detailed information at the INCLUSIVE HEALTH website.

Inclusive Health, also known as the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool (NCHIRP), provides affordable, individual health insurance coverage for North Carolinians who do not have access to an employer health plan and face higher premiums due to a pre-existing medical condition.

Inclusive Health is scheduled to begin offering coverage on January 1, 2009. Established by the State Legislature, Inclusive Health is a non-profit entity. It is not part of the state government but operates under the supervision and control of its Board.  Its Executive Director is Michael Keough.  

Inclusive Health plans are available in three options with varying deductibles and benefits that include prescription drug coverage. These plans are outlined in a downloadable PDF at the Inclusive Health website along with enrollment applications and other information. There is also a rate calculator that determines the cost of premiums according to age and whether the applicant is a smoker or non-smoker.

Who can fix this?

Posted in Reform-in-progress, The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 11 October 2008

The headline reads: Health insurance coverage dwindling.Those in Carolinas are losing employer-based insurance at faster rate than in most other states. (By Karen Garloch); and it’s a headline that is likely to make a significant impact on the upcoming elections.

Karen Garloch’s article in the Charlotte Observer is one that needs to be plastered on billboards all across NC. It states a truth that a little less than half of NCers already knows first-hand. NC’s insured population has fallen from 69% in 2000 to 59% in 2007. In case those percentages appear benign, consider this:

In 2000: (8,049,313)   =  5,554,025 insured/2,495,288 uninsured

In 2007: (9,061,032)   =  5,346,008 insured/ 3,715,024 uninsured

NC Population growth from 2000 to 2007: 1,011,719

Increase in NC’s uninsured from 2000 to 2007: 1,219, 736

Essentially, every citizen born in NC over the last seven years, and then some, is uninsured.

But who can fix this?

Watching the Presidential Debate this past week did not bring immediate relief to concerns. Going back to Jonathan Oberlander’s assessment of Obama and McCain’s healthcare plans, both candidates acknowledge the critical need for immediate reform, but via juxtaposing properties that “reflect fundamentally different assumptions about the virtues and vices of markets and government.”

As far as NC is concerned, the jury is still out about which candidate has the plan that can turn around the trend of dwindling healthcare insurance. Obama’s plan seems to largely depend on employer-paid coverage while McCain’s plan shifts the bill to consumers but with a bonus tax credit. Both candidates also acknowledge the problem of high-risk coverage and pre-existing conditions which, in NC, have a significant impact on affordability. Obama’s plan appears more complicated all around and would take quite a bit of time to accomplish. His plan heavily relies on employer-mandated insurance benefits which causes one to speculate how that would work under the current economic crisis and high unemployment rates. Also, how likely would employer-mandated health benefits boost the job market for North Carolinians  who are able to work but currently unemployed? 

McCain could probably achieve his plan in less time, but there are some down sides to his proposal, like deregulation of the insurance markets in relation to NC’s current unemployment stats–if you don’t have a job, you probably can’t afford any kind of premium and getting a job might be a very long-term process. Obama’s national health plan (similar to Medicare) would be of more benefit to these folks. And if you already get health insurance through an employer, you’ll start paying tax on that benefit.

NC’s new health insurance risk-pool is scheduled to begin enrollment on January 1, 2009. Just under 200,000 Carolinians ( 178,000 (under 65)) will get a break in BCBSNC’s very expensive high-risk rates, but will it be a break big enough to make a significant difference in the number of NC’s uninsured? Individual high-risk rates could still be over $800/month; and for many, that just isn’t enough to make it affordable. For an unemployed high-risk person, there is no affordable coverage even with the risk pool.

What percentage of NC’s uninsured miss out on health coverage because of unemployment or lack of employee benefits? Probably close to all those under age 65 in one way or another. So what’s to fix first–healthcare or the economy? Obama says he’ll prioritize those issues and work sequentially; McCain believes it is possible to work on both healthcare and the economy simultaneously.

Which candidate has the plan best for NC–a plan that brings immediate (or as immediate as possible) relief to both the unemployed and high-risk or uninsurable populations?  Who–McCain or Obama–is more likely to take positive and aggressive action that, at a minimum, slows the decline in NC’s insured?

Ideally, Karen Garloch’s next article about NC and health insurance will boast a different headline: Health insurance coverage increasing.Those in Carolinas are gaining employer-based insurance at faster rate than in most other states.

NORTH CAROLINA INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE 2006 TASK FORCE ON COVERING THE UNINSURED UPDATES TO RECOMMENDATIONS (2008)
North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool Feasibility Study

The Healthcare Vote: Representative Verla Insko

Posted in The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 9 October 2008

Representative Verla Insko
(D, Orange)

See Representative Insko’s legislative accomplishments in the NC General Assembly.

Verla Clemens Insko (b. February 5, 1936) is a Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state’s fifty-sixth House district, including constituents in Orange county. A retired health program administrator from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Insko is currently (2007-2008 session) serving in her sixth term in the state House. She sits on several committees and is chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and the Mental Health Reform committee. She has been noted for her progressive policy positions, such as her support for publicly funded universal health care, and stated in a candidate questionnaire, “I believe in an activist government that provides for the common good and protects the vulnerable”.

The Healthcare Vote: Senator William Purcell

Posted in The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 9 October 2008

Senator William Purcell
(D, District 25)

See Senator Purcell’s legislative accomplishments in the NC General Assembly.

Read the NC Justice Center’s profile for Senator Purcell.

Read Modern Medicine’s Profile: Bill Purcell, pediatrician turned politician

Senator Purcell on UNC-TV.

Recognitions:

Defenders of Justice Award, Legislative Advocacy 2006, NC Justice Center

Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service 2007

AARP Outstanding Legislator 2007

2007 Ronald H. Levine Legacy Award

2008 NC Prevention Awards Winners, Legislator Excellence

2006 “Baby Bootie” Legislative Award

2008 Hemophilia of North Carolina Legislator of the Year Award

Recipient of the Ewald W. Busse Award

Distinguished Service Award from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Will Breazeale (R-District 7-NC): FAIR HEALTH PLAN

Posted in NC Healthpress, Political Health by writemyline on 7 October 2008

Will Breazeale

Republican Nominee, District 7-NC, U.S. House

FAIR HEALTH PLAN-PRESS RELEASE

 

 

 

11 SEP 2008

 

1. This plan agrees with Sen. John McCain’s plan on many fronts: portability, guaranteed access, affordability, tort reform and transparency. Will Breazeale has worked hard with research and interviews conducted all over District 7. Interviews were conducted with hospital CFOs, physicians, patients, the poorest of Americans, the middle class and business owners. This plan has chosen a different and unique way to fund and fix our health care problems.

2. This plan also acknowledges our government’s need to eliminate the $75 Trillion budget deficit ($9 Trillion direct and $66 Trillion of unfunded promises).

 

PLAN:

 

16% GNP to 9% GNP for Health Care NOW!

$2 Trillion is spent every year on our health care. (16% of our Gross Domestic Product). With cost savings listed below, we can finally reduce this cost to 9% of GDP!

 

HOW???

 

-Health Care Insurance Company Competition

The government can create competition among private health care companies by dividing the country into 10 regions for a bidding war to cover the uninsured and underinsured with huge contracts awarded to a private companies. Competition ALWAYS lowers costs!

 

-Privately Administered, Government Awarded Contracts

The government awards the contracts by regions to the low bidder, but the Private Insurance Company like Aetna, Blue Cross, etc., will ADMINISTER the program. The government will never run an efficient health care system like a private company can. This lowers costs!

 

-Lawsuit Reform

The government will mandate that EVERY state will form an independent commission to review medical lawsuits before they go to trial. ANY lawsuit that is classified as frivolous and loses in court, will force the losing side to pay ALL lawyer and court costs for both sides. Frivolous lawsuits will go away overnight. This lowers costs!

 

-No More Emergency Room Abuse

-Anyone using the Fair Health plan will have to pay a $500 deductible for non-emergency use of any emergency room before being seen. This will end emergency room abuse which will lower costs and keep more emergency rooms open. This lowers costs!

 

-Rewards for Wellness

Anyone meeting the Presidential Council for Physical fitness goals for their age and gender will be charged 9% less for their health insurance costs. This rewards wellness and reduces costs to the patient and insurance company!

 

-No More Free Care for Illegal Immigrants

-The health care bill for illegal immigrants is estimated to be 15% of our total health care costs. The Fair Health plan will finally collect premiums from illegal immigrants for their health care while calling for a direct deduction for all costs from their country of origin’s foreign aid. This lowers costs!

 

-Level Playing Field for Businesses

-The Fair Health plan will take health care concerns off the table for businesses who cannot afford health insurance for their employees. This will allow recruitment of talented people for all businesses and make it easier to start a small business with less capital investment. Our citizens have to be healthy to get a job. Covering all 47 Million uninsured Americans will create a healthier workforce for business.

 

-Complete Portability

The Fair Health plan AUTOMATICALLY insures someone the day they lose their job. No more expensive COBRA. The Fair Health plan also insures ALL pre-existing conditions as well as covering dental and vision needs.

 

-Choice

Want to purchase health insurance on your own, use your company health care or use your Health Savings Account? Fine! You can opt out of the Fair Health plan at any time!

 

-National Health Care Sales Tax for Uninsured-9% vs. 8%

Paying for it!!! EVERY person living in the United States will be charged an additional 9% on everything new item or service they buy for the Fair Health plan UNLESS they prove with a biometric card or a fingerprint reader linked to a database that they have their own health insurance.

 

-Elimination of Medicaid saving $Billions!

Fair Health makes it possible to eliminate Medicaid as we know it saving our government billions of dollars. Employers or states can help lower income people pay some of the 9 or 8% Fair Health tax with a system of prebates.

 

3. This is a REAL and creative plan. McIntyre’s plan is too general and lacks vision. Questions and comments are always welcome and considered! Call 910-409-7023 or email will@awilltowin.com.

 

 

Will Breazeale

Republican Nominee, District 7-NC, U.S. House

NC Candidates on Healthcare

Posted in Political Health, The Vote 2008 by writemyline on 7 October 2008

 

HOW DO NC CANDIDATES FOR THE US HOUSE AND SENATE RESPOND TO HEALTHCARE ISSUES?

 

ALL CANDIDATES ARE WELCOMED TO MAKE FURTHER COMMENTS ADDRESSING NC HEALTHCARE ISSUES BY DIRECTING THEIR MESSAGE TO THIS FORUM OR VIA  DEB@WRITEMYLINE.COM

 DEMOCRAT

 REPUBLICAN

For U.S. Senator

Kay Hagan http://www.kayhagan.com/issues

Elizabeth Dole http://www.elizabethdole.org/

*Facilitate the use of privacy-protected electronic health records

*Reform the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit

*Reduce costs for prescription drug coverage through re-importation

*Ensure fair reimbursement Rates for doctors under Medicare and TRICARE

*Eliminate waste in the Medicare Advantage Program

*Expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program

*Simplify and strengthen Medicaid eligibility

*Assist states in meeting Medicaid demands

*Encourage small businesses to offer health insurance to all employees

*Allow individuals ages 55-64 to buy into Medicare

*Enforce mental health parity in health plans.

*Implement a nationwide preventive benefit

*Boost funding for health care research.

 

*Senator Dole led the fight to prevent a Medicaid policy change that would cost North Carolina hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars annually and eliminate the safety net for uninsured and low-income patients

*Co-sponsored the Every American Insured Health Act, which provides refundable, advanceable flat tax credits of $2,160 per individual and $5,400 per family that gives them the freedom to choose the health care coverage that meets their needs.

*Called for reauthorizing and responsibly expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program so that all eligible children in North Carolina are covered, and opposed a bill that would have disproportionately burdened North Carolina’s economy to fund the program

*Continue the Fight Against Cancer

*Increase Funding for Domestic HIV/AIDS Research

*Institute Grant Programs for Comprehensive School Health Programs

*Reinvest in Allied Health Professional Training

*Offer Loan Forgiveness for Allied Health Graduates

*Increase the Number of Health Providers in Rural America

For U.S. Congress

District 1:

G.K. Butterfield http://butterfield.house.gov/

Dean Stephens http://deanstephens.com/

“In addition to expanding the number of Americans with health insurance, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and improving Medicare, we must also make health insurance more affordable, increase patients’ rights to keep their medical information private and increase funding for medical research into diseases like diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

 

Some of the Medicare changes approved by the 108th Congress benefited special interests, not seniors. We can do better. We need to repeal and replace parts of the bill to ensure that all seniors are provided an affordable, guaranteed drug benefit and that makes drug costs more affordable for everyone.”

District 2:

Bob Etheridge http://etheridge.house.gov/

Dan Mansell http://www.mansellforcongress.com

“Our North Carolina values call on us to provide health care security for all of our senior citizens. You can be sure that I will continue to honor their sacrifices by defending their health security through Medicare.”

 

Etheridge voted to override the President’s veto of H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.


H.R. 6331 has several provisions to improve rural health services. It will provide additional support for providers, hospitals and ambulances in areas where there are few health care options, including rural communities.

District 3:

Craig Weber http://www.weberinthehouse.com/

Walter Jones Jr. http://jones.house.gov

“We need to go into committee with Business, Medicine and Congress and come out with an easy to function basic health plan. We must protect Physicians from any potential legalities. We must set pricing on medicines. We can provide tax incentives to business and medical providers. If felt to be needed, we can put the final plan before a National Referendum to validate viability and acceptance. We must start to definitively address this problem for the American People.”

Over his seven terms in office, Congressman Jones has crafted a wide range of legislation. Some of those that have been signed into law include:

TRICARE Enhancement Act of 2000, to make various improvements in the military health care system with respect to the TRICARE program. Several provisions of the legislation were approved as part of the FY01 National Defense Authorization Act signed by the President.

 

Introduced H.R. 2860 Legislation to improve rural healthcare

District 4:

David Price              http://price.house.gov/

B.J. Lawson http://www.lawsonforcongress.com

 

“I strongly support the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and understand the important role it has played in providing health care to low-income children in North Carolina and around the country. I am also committed to protecting vital health initiatives like Medicare and Medicaid from devastating cuts, as the President has proposed in his budget.
From pushing for improvements in the Medicare prescription drug benefit to helping small businesses offset high costs, I will continue working to find ways to bring affordable health care within reach for all Americans. “
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

“My plan for healthcare builds on health savings accounts (HSAs), more affordable health insurance, and improved pricing transparency. I believe that the government can play a role in making healthcare accessible and affordable for all, but I do not support a government-controlled healthcare system. We should strive for a healthcare system that provides universal access, and is controlled by patients and individual providers.

Today’s healthcare is distorted by what I call “corporate care” – it’s controlled by special interests, particularly insurers, large provider bureaucracies, and the federal government. The current system artificially inflates usage and prices, and takes control away from the patient working with his or her preferred provider.

Economically sustainable healthcare requires reducing costs and usage while improving quality

From an insurance perspective, we could afford a universal tax credit of roughly $5,000 per family to purchase health insurance simply by ending our current government subsidy to employer-purchased healthcare. Excess premiums could be paid from tax-exempt HSAs. Ideally, long term care and holistic therapies will also be tax deductible.

In the long run, employers could contribute to employee health savings account (rather than administering a separate plan). In this model, healthcare would be less distorted by insurers and no longer tied to conditions of employment. In addition, tax benefits that are currently enjoyed only by employees with healthcare coverage would be available to everyone.

Another advantage is that when people control their own insurance, they wouldn’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions when they change employers. Finally, I will pursue legislation that will open up a national market for healthcare insurance, instead of the current system that limits consumers to only insurers operating in their state.

Putting the patient in charge of routine healthcare expenditures will encourage convenience centers which offer drop-in services, often on a 24/7 basis for simple ailments that can be easily treated by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant without an appointment. These services would dramatically lower the cost for many common ailments and be easily paid for out of a funded HSA.

In the long term, I’d like to see Medicare operate under a similar model using HSAs and government funding for insurance. Oh yes – and I’d expect members of Congress and others in Washington to enjoy the same healthcare market that I provides for all of our citizens.

As your congressman, I will seek an active and visible role on Congressional task forces and committees dealing with healthcare so that I can aggressively promote these ideas and turn them into law.”

 District 5:

Roy Carter http://www.roycarterforcongress.com

Virginia Foxx http://www.foxx.house.gov/

 

“Making health insurance affordable and accessible to the American people is of great importance. Skyrocketing insurance premiums and out of control lawsuits have diminished our nation’s health care delivery systems for too long.

We must work to lower patients’ costs by lowering the insurance costs borne by hospitals and physicians and creating reasonable guidelines, not caps, on punitive damages. Health care dollars should be spent on patients in the hospital – not on lawyers in the courtroom.

Programs like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Association Health Plans (AHPs) will help constituents be proactive and preventative with their health and make choices with their health care.”

District 6:

Teresa Sue Bratton http://www.teresasuebratton.com/

Howard Coble   http://coble.house.gov/

*Comprehensive, affordable, age-appropriate health care for every man, woman and child in America.

*Improved quality and efficiency in our health care delivery with rewards for the use of evidence-based medicine, implementation of electronic medical records and malpractice reform.

*Top quality care for our Veterans with reduced waiting times for medical care.

 

“My plan calls for health care for every American – a system that cuts costs and provides better care. Americans have the most expensive health care system in the world. We need a change. We need affordable, portable and comprehensive coverage that does not bankrupt families, including preventive primary care, chronic disease management and mental health parity.”

“It is time for our country to step forward and find a way for Americans to have access to health care that provides better care, cuts costs and is available to everyone. By expanding existing systems and creating non-profit purchasing pools where families and individuals can obtain affordable coverage with either a private insurer or a public insurance plan, we can cover all Americans.”

District 7:

Mike McIntyre http://www.house.gov/mcintyre/

Will Breazeale  http://breazeale08.com/

 

“As a member of the Steering Committee and former Co-Chairman of the Rural Health Care Coalition, I am concerned about the current state of our nation’s health care system. Unfortunately, 41 million Americans are uninsured and in desperate need of adequate health care.

Read Will Breazeale’s Fair Health Plan on “The State of NC Healthcare. 

Since I was elected to Congress in 1996, I have been working to provide relief to our hospitals and health systems, improve options for seniors, and increase the accessibility and affordability of health care. I am especially concerned about the unique needs of residents in rural areas who are often forced to drive great distances to receive care at a hospital or doctor’s office. In order to provide these citizens with quality health care, we must make a strong federal investment to expand services in rural areas.

A slow economy has resulted in a number of financial challenges for our area’s hospitals and health systems. Budget cuts at the state level threaten the stability of Medicare and Medicaid funding that many of our providers depend on for services. As our health care providers struggle to account for the shortfall in Medicare payments, they are often forced to reduce staff salaries, cut services, or limit investment in technology, equipment, and infrastructure. These sacrifices not only jeopardize quality care, but also limit the number of patients hospitals can afford to serve. With over 15% of North Carolina’s population living without health insurance, we must ensure that our hospitals, health centers, home health agencies, and hospices, receive enough funding to meet the growing need for health services. In order to protect these important services, I will continue working to provide immediate financial relief to local and state governments to prevent reductions in Medicare and Medicaid assistance.

In fact, I have joined several of my colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would increase funding to Medicaid. This measure, the State Budget Relief Act, would provide immediate financial assistance to local and state governments in order to support increases in Medicaid enrollment. In addition, this legislation would limit reductions in Medicaid coverage due to state budget shortfalls.

In February 2004, the President released his budget for fiscal year 2005, which included a cut in funding for Medicaid. In March, I voted against the U.S. House budget resolution because the bill included a provision to cut Medicaid by $2.2 billion. If we are to maintain the support to our states that Medicaid provides, we must ensure that the program is adequately funded. Fortunately, when the budget resolution came before the full U.S. House for final consideration on May 19, it did not include these cuts.

In addition to increasing health care access for our residents, I am also committed to improving the quality of care for our senior citizens. As the cost of prescription drugs continues to rise, many seniors find they can no longer afford the medicine they need to live healthy lives. Our seniors deserve a sensible, balanced, and fair Medicare-prescription drug benefit that will help the individuals who need it most. No senior should have to make the choice between buying groceries and purchasing the monthly medicine needed to live a healthy life.

On December 8, 2003, the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2003 was signed into law. Although I was supportive of several of the bill’s provisions, I was unable to support it because it fell far short of protecting our nation’s senior citizens in the availability and affordability of prescription drugs. I am confident that we can provide a better benefit than the new law, which makes seniors pay $4000 for $1000 of benefits. We can also do better than letting thousands of retirees in North Carolina lose their prescription drug benefit coverage from their former employees. Furthermore, we should not be at the mercy of private insurance companies to deliver fair and cheap prescription drug coverage to our seniors. Medicare controls the plan I support – not the private sector. This ensures that Medicare beneficiaries have access to quality pharmaceuticals regardless of where they choose to live.

I am very pleased that the bill provides $25 billion in relief for rural providers starting in 2005. This is legislative relief that I have strongly supported. This would provide the necessary Medicare reimbursements for our doctors and hospitals and additional dollars for home health, skilled nursing facilities, community health centers and rural ambulance services. As the former Co-Chairman of the Rural Health Care Coalition, I worked tirelessly on these issues for the past several years, and I remain committed to providing additional resources and funding for our rural providers as a member of the Coalition’s Executive Committee. These individuals are on the front lines of providing adequate health care to our low-income, rural areas, and they deserve this long-awaited benefit.

Throughout the U.S. Congress’s consideration of the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, I supported several measures that would have vastly improved the bill. I voted repeatedly to reject the privatization of Medicare and provide for a defined drug benefit for seniors. I also voted to improve rural health care, in addition to providing increases in Medicare reimbursements to physicians and increased payments to hospitals. Unfortunately, none of these measures passed the U.S. House, but I will continue the fight to stop discrimination against rural America when it comes to our health care dollars and services.”

District 8

Larry Kissell  http://www.larrykissell.com/

Robin Hayes        http://hayes.house.gov/

 

“Over the past several years, we have witnessed great advances in health care coupled with rapidly rising costs.  Increased affordability and accessibility are the two goals I believe we should be working towards when considering legislative changes. 

On the cost side, I am very concerned with the skyrocketing insurance premiums facing our nation’s health care delivery system.  Liability insurers are leaving the market or raising rates to a level that people just can’t afford.  In turn, more physicians, hospitals and other providers are limiting their practices or simply stop practicing medicine.  The direct cost of frivolous lawsuits and the indirect costs passed on in higher fees and premiums have driven up costs.  That’s why I supported legislation that places common-sense curbs on frivolous lawsuits, HR 3875, and I have supported reforms that would allow small businesses to pool together in order to offer affordable health care to their workers, HR 525.

To improve health care for our seniors, I supported the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit that has provided drug coverage for thousands of 8th District seniors, HR 1.  The Medicare Drug Benefit which took effect on January 1, 2006 provides all seniors, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, with an array of options to help them pick an affordable plan that best meets their needs. 

Although certainly there is more work to be done in modernizing the system, I believe that we are making strides, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to further reform our nation’s healthcare in the future. “

District 9:

Harry Taylor http://www.harrytaylorforcongress.com

Sue Myrick       http://myrick.house.gov/

“There is no better example of the failure in Washington politics today than the fact that one in six Americans are without healthcare insurance, and that tens of millions more are chronically underinsured, risking bankruptcy with a single catastrophic or chronic illness.

Ideologues will not solve the problem. People of good faith must come together – patients first, plus government, industry, the medical profession and insurance providers — to craft a solution that will guarantee affordable health care access for all Americans.”

 

“We need a healthy SCHIP program that serves children in need. That is why I am an original co-sponsor of the Kids First Act. It maintains the principles under which SCHIP was created by ensuring states have the resources to provide healthcare coverage to children and families who need the most help.”

Rep. Myrick supports renewing SCHIP, but believes that expanding it to people who make over $80,000 a year is wrong. She believes saddling taxpayers with more taxes is wrong. She believes this bill was poorly crafted and worries that it may crowd out low income American children who actually need the help, given the additional children, ADULTS, and possible illegal aliens who would be added to the government rolls. 

*Myrick also introduced the  National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) Reauthorization Act.  This bill ensures that the NBCCEDP continues to receive funding so that low-income, uninsured, or underinsured women continue to have access to mammograms or pap smear tests.

District 10:

Daniel Johnson http://www.danieljohnson08.org

Patrick McHenry http://mchenry.house.gov/

“The cost of healthcare is out of control – bankrupting our families and crushing our small businesses.   Instead of re-hashing the same debates, we need to find real solutions that drive down costs while maintaining quality of care.  That means supporting government programs that work like S-CHIP, which insures millions of children nationwide; helping small businesses afford coverage for their employees through tax breaks and risk pools; and encouraging private insurers to offer fair and sensible coverage.   It is also incumbent upon us to cut red tape so that doctors and their patients can make the best decisions about care.”

 “Access to quality healthcare has been one of the main issues Representative McHenry has worked on in the North Carolina House. The most dangerous obstacle to healthcare access today is the trend of skyrocketing jury awards for so called “pain and suffering” damages.

 Capping jury awards on non-economic damages, limiting what trial lawyers take from injured patients, enabling periodic payments of awards, and letting juries see the real economic picture through changes in collateral source rules will all help to improve healthcare.”

Access to new drugs also needs to be improved. Congressman McHenry supports cutting red-tape and undue bureaucracy within the FDA so that the approval process for new and potentially lifesaving drugs can be accelerated without sacrificing safety.

Congressman McHenry also supports the establishment of Association Health Plans, which would allow small businesses that could not otherwise afford health insurance to band together and purchase insurance as a group so that more working Americans have access to health insurance.
Furthermore, Congressman McHenry believes in the right of American’s to have tax-free Medical Savings Accounts to help cover out-of-pocket expenses associated with health care. Finally, Representative McHenry believes that our nation’s community colleges should be a top priority for funding as they serve to train and retrain students and displaced workers in nursing and other health fields.

District 11:

Heath Shuler      http://shuler.house.gov/

Carl Mumpower http://www.mumpower08.com

“Our rural communities are in an especially difficult situation when it comes to ensuring access to needed health care services. We must focus on reducing the cost of health insurance by improving medical information technology, helping small businesses provide health insurance, and improving existing programs like Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Providing the highest level of medical care in a mountainous and rural area like Western North Carolina can be a difficult task. Many residents do not have easy access to health care facilities close to their homes, and when a patient is transferred from one hospital to another it is difficult to fully transfer their complete medical records.

 

 “The solutions to America’s health care crisis are not to be found in socialistic models from other countries. What will work is encouraging competition, a renewal of personal wellness responsibilities, less smothering regulation, and a reemphasis on basic health services over a race toward expensive technology and exotic interventions. Underfunded government promises of unrealistic levels of service are a major factor in health care costs. Tax credits for every American to purchase their own health care policy make more sense than an inefficient national program run by big government.”

To address these difficulties, Western North Carolina has become a leader in the use of medical information technology. The Data Link program, which connects hospitals throughout our region electronically, allows doctors to share critical patient information. I am proud to have secured funding for the continued expansion of the Data Link program in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

While ensuring that we are utilizing the latest medical technology, we must remember that the most important thing we can do to improve wellness is assure people access to a doctor. I have worked in the 110th Congress to ensure that rural residents have access to medical facilities and supported over $300 million in funding for rural health programs, area health education centers, and the National Health Service Corps through the Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations bill.

Medicare has proven to be an effective method of improving the health care for our senior citizens. Now, we must continue building on its legacy of success to ensure it continues to meet our needs in the 21st Century, while remaining financially stable.

At the beginning of the 110th Congress I supported H.R. 4, common sense legislation that would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices in the same way the Department of Veterans Affairs has done successfully for years

 Additionally, we must work to make certain that doctors and hospitals are receiving the proper reimbursements from Medicare, so that access to care does not decline. In December 2007 I supported legislation that postponed a scheduled 10.1% cut in Medicare payments for physicians and replaced it with a 0.5% increase.

 We have a solemn obligation to help care for the least among us. I was proud to support efforts in the 110th Congress to reauthorize the SCHIP program.”

District 12:

Mel Watt           http://watt.house.gov/

Ty Cobb Jr. http://tycobbforcongress.com

“Throughout the time I have served in Congress I have consistently supported proposals to provide universal health care to all our citizens. 

 

 

While these proposals have been criticized as too expensive, I continue to believe that a universal health care program of some kind is the only effective way to meet the challenge of rising health care costs.  The current system encourages cost shifting and virtually assures that all people without coverage will get medical treatment only in emergencies and in hospital emergency rooms, the most expensive medical treatment. “

District 13:

Brad Miller http://bradmiller.house.gov/

Hugh Webster http://www.websterforcongress.com

“I joined a majority in the House of Representatives in support of bipartisan legislation, to provide health care to more than 10 million low-income children.

 

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization Act has passed the House twice. These bipartisan bills reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years and preserve the coverage for all 6.6 million children currently covered by CHIP nationwide. The bills also extended health care coverage to 3.8 million additional low-income children. 

I am committed to ensuring that North Carolina residents continue to have access to high-quality physician care.  Making sure that doctors are adequately reimbursed for their services to patients on Medicare, is an essential part of this commitment. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is our country’s premier institution for medical research. I have co-signed a bipartisan letter to the appropriators urging a minimum of a 6.5 percent increase for NIH funding. We must invest in research today that will yield cures for tomorrow.”

 

 

New TNT show, ‘Time Heals,’ features Charlotte’s Mercy Hospital

Posted in Uncategorized by writemyline on 5 October 2008
Press Release: TNT, 19 Spetember 2008
Jada Pinkett Smith to Star and Executive Produce as a Nurse and Single Mother in TNT Drama Pilot TIME HEALS
Sony Pictures Television Project Created by Emmy-Winning John Masius (St. Elsewhere); Masius, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jamie Tarses (My Boys) Executive-Producing
Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix Trilogy) has signed on to play the lead in TNT’s riveting drama pilot TIME HEALS. She will play Director of Nursing Nancy Hawthorne, an unsung hero, caregiver and single mother who always puts the pain of others first. TIME HEALS comes to TNT from Sony Pictures Television in association with Pinkett Smith’s 100% Womon Productions, John Masius Productions and Jamie Tarses’ FanFare Productions. It was created by Emmy-winner John Masius (St. Elsewhere, Providence, Dead Like Me), who also wrote the pilot script. Masius, Pinkett Smith and Jamie Tarses (My Boys) serve as executive producers.

“John Masius has created a beautifully drawn character, and we couldn’t have wished for a better choice to play her than Jada. Nancy Hawthorne is incredibly dynamic, a nurse whose energy, self-sacrifice and heroism changes lives on a daily basis,” said Michael Wright, senior vice president in charge of the Content Creation Group for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. “We are thrilled to have this wonderful actress on board for this very special drama.”

TIME HEALS takes place at Charlotte Mercy Hospital in North Carolina, where the strong but caring Nancy Hawthorne (Pinkett Smith) continuously fights a battle she often knows she won’t win. Whether treating the homeless woman in front of the hospital like a human being or trying to talk a suicidal cancer patient off the ledge, Nancy must challenge hospital administrators, heartless doctors, apathetic colleagues and a system that sometimes forgets it’s there to serve the sick.

Recently widowed and the mother of a smart, willful teenager, Nancy juggles her career with her equally important role as a single parent. Between the two, she barely has time for herself and has difficulty keeping things together. But she knows she has to. She can’t give up on anyone. That’s what her passion requires; it’s what it takes to be a hero.

Since making her film debut in the critically acclaimed Menace II Society, Pinkett Smith has starred in a number of high-profile films, including The Nutty Professor, Collateral, Reign Over Me, The Matrix Reloaded and Set It Off. She co-starred opposite her husband, actor Will Smith, in Michael Mann’s Ali. She also is the voice of Gloria in the animated film Madagascar and the soon to be released Madagascar 2. She can currently be seen in theaters in the comedy-drama The Women, a remake of the 1939 classic.

On television, Pinkett Smith co-starred in the long-running comedy series A Different World and the television movie If These Walls Could Talk. She also served as co-creator and executive producer of All of Us.