Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Health Benefit Exchange Bill Passed In N.C. House

HB 115, legislation establishing a health benefit exchange in North Carolina passed the NC House of Representatives yesterday with a 83-34 vote. Those in favor of the bill stated that passing HB 115 was a necessary step in maintaining the integrity of the insurance system in North Carolina. Proponents stated that the bill may not be perfect but that it is a "skeleton" and foundation for a better bill to be composed. The bill is currently on its way to the NC Senate where it awaits further action.

Consumer advocate opponents of the bill, like the National MS Society, NC Chapters continue to believe that it is an "anti-consumer" bill that places far too much power in the hands of insurers. In fact, according to the bill sponsor, HB 115 was largely written by Insurance companies.

During the floor debate, amendments passed unanimously that made the bill more "consumer friendly". One such amendment that was adopted was to provide for "conflict of interest rules and recusal procedures". In essence, these rules and procedures should require anyone with a conflict of interest involved in manners of the board to recuse themselves. Currently, there are two positions on the board reserved for insurers; seemingly this would mean that these Board members would have to remove themselves from all board procedures when representing their own industry. Other problems with HB 115 include, but certainly are not limited to: a user tax,
lack of requirements of clarity, allowed advertising of insurers.

To read the full bill and the roll call votes, visit here.

Please continue checking out the activisMS blog for more updates when HB 115 begins to be heard in the NC Senate.

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