2020 has been a year unlike anything we could have expected. The COVID-19 pandemic upended so many aspects of daily life. It also showed us how important a quality, affordable, consumer-centered health care system truly is.
Because of your support, North Carolina was on stronger ground to face the pandemic than we would have been otherwise.
The support and advocacy you’ve lent our Coalition led to big successes on several key legislative issues. We took on Big Pharma and won. We took on the mega hospital systems and won.
We should celebrate those victories, but we also need to get ready for what’s next. In 2021 we will need you more than ever.
Health care will be the number one issue next year for the Governor and the General Assembly. They will take up several issues that will impact your costs, and just like last year, your voice will determine if we win or not.
Here is a quick look at a few of the issues we are watching:
- Surprise Billing – One in 10 Americans have been a victim of a surprise bill. It’s a $40 billion-dollar epidemic that is making a few Wall Street-owned health care practices rich, but costing families everything.
The good news is that reforms to address surprise billing are out there. There was a bill in the General Assembly last year that would have set a fair, reasonable limit for out-of-network charges. With your help, this is a fight we can take on and win this year.
- Increased Competition – One of the best ways that we can lower health care costs is by increasing competition. But the only way we can increase competition is to get rid of the outdated laws that require new practices to prove to the government that there’s a “need” for their services. It’s called “Certificate of Need” and serves as an enabler for health care monopolies, especially in areas like dialysis. There are new, innovative, and far more cost-effective dialysis treatment options out there, but they won’t come to North Carolina because our laws are preventing them. This is something we need to fix.
- More Insurance Options – It’s not right that big companies can take advantage of more affordable insurance plans that aren’t available to small businesses and individuals. But that’s our reality. A plan known as an EPO – or exclusive provider organization – could reduce premiums but nearly 20 percent if our government would allow them to be sold to small business and individuals. These are good, ACA compliant plans, and we will use our voice this year to make sure people have equal access to these savings.
- Telehealth – As a result of COVID-19, telehealth has soared. Telehealth is a terrific tool that can significantly expand access and lower costs. We must make sure it remains an available and affordable option. The most serious threat to telehealth’s long-term viability are payment mandates that dictate providers be paid the same for in-person visits as they are for virtual appointments. This is a handout to providers, especially expensive specialists, and totally negates the savings of telehealth. Why should you have to pay for the building utilities and check-in staff for a telehealth appointment? Providers are spending less to facilitate virtual visits, and the savings should be passed on to consumers.
- Drug Costs – Prescription drugs prices continue to substantially rise. Consumers struggle to afford their prescriptions, while Big Pharma nets record profits. It’s one of the most unfair aspects of health care, and it needs to be addressed. We’re prepared to take Big Pharma on again, and with your help we’ll win again.
If we can address these issues in 2021, it will mean major health care savings for millions of people. But we can’t do it without you. Our Coalition is only as strong as our advocates.
So, thanks again for joining the fight. There will be plenty more to come in 2021, and we look forward to facing them with you.