We continue to deny that we are in a crisis when it comes to healthcare. Just this June, our leadership in Raleigh in the Senate Committee on Healthcare prohibited a provision concerning expansion of medical benefits to the working poor in North Carolina. These people have no healthcare benefits and when they go to the emergency room, healthcare providers have to pick up the tab, increasing rates paid by others who are insured. This is an especially onerous burden on small businesses.
The federal government would pay 90% of the cost of healthcare for North Carolinians in need. All Raleigh had to do was accept and pay the other ten cents on the dollar like the vast majority of other state legislatures have. Instead, party ideologues have pursued a mean-spirited alternate agenda to the detriment of our state.
This denial of cost-effective healthcare to people in need is offensive to the principles of my Christian faith and those of most other faiths represented in North Carolina, but the reason it matters in this campaign is that it offends the principles of public decency. Our North Carolina democracy is sullied by playing Russian Roulette politics with the lives of North Carolinians. Experts estimate that at least 500 North Carolinians die needlessly every year just because of this stubborn policy.
We also need to be vigilant in monitoring abuses by conglomerate healthcare providers. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital Authority (Atrium Healthcare) is seeking to expand its market share, which economists predict will further increase healthcare costs for everyone. Atrium pays its CEO more than $5 million a year while stifling competition among other providers. For any legislator looking to reduce healthcare costs, there is an obvious place to start.