North Carolina’s efforts to establish a health insurance exchange program may have come to a halt. The State House and Human Services Committee ruled this week to make changes to a proposal that would have set up the exchange, prompted by the results of an oversight panel that showed that business interests far outweighed those of consumers. The stalling of the plan has put many on edge, baffled at how businesses could be considered more important that consumers.
Health insurance exchanges are a provision of the Affordable Care Act, passed into law last year. The exchanges are meant to help individuals, families, and small businesses find affordable health care that they would be unable to find on their own. According to their design, they are meant to bring robust competition to the existing insurance market, which would lower coverage prices overall. States are federally required to establish exchanges by 2014 or the government will do it for them.
Opponents of the law say that it gives the federal government too much power over the industry. Representative Jerry Dockham of Davidson, North Carolina, argues that several revisions can be made to the bill to give the state more control over the exchange. Supporters of the law argue that the Affordable Care Act already has provisions that give states the option of running their exchanges or assembling a team that will handle regulations.
Consumer advocates decry the results of the oversight panel, saying that they do not accurately affect the best interests of the state.
Revisions will be made to the bill before it is resubmitted for debate in the coming months.