Opinion

2/13 Letters: State Health Plan should put people before politics

Starting Jan. 1, hospitals are mandated to reveal their once-secret master price lists, although it’s unclear whether the new requirement will assist many patients or contain ever-rising health care costs. NC State Treasurer Dale Folwell is proposing changes in the State Health Plan that would require similar transparency in pricing. (Dreamstime)
Starting Jan. 1, hospitals are mandated to reveal their once-secret master price lists, although it’s unclear whether the new requirement will assist many patients or contain ever-rising health care costs. NC State Treasurer Dale Folwell is proposing changes in the State Health Plan that would require similar transparency in pricing. (Dreamstime) TNS file photo

Treasurer inaccurate

In his campaign to change the payment system for the State Health Plan, our elected State Treasurer Dale Folwell has opted to spread misinformation, create uncertainty for state employees and retirees, and sow doubt about the dedication of healthcare providers in our state instead of exploring sustainable solutions to solve the complex challenges facing the Plan. Healthcare leaders across the state have offered to work with him on numerous occasions, but have been rebuffed. The treasurer’s latest assertions, that physicians and hospital employees are fraudulent, wasteful, and would “order more tests” in response to his ill-conceived plan, is offensive and inaccurate. I have worked with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals for more than 35 years, and consider them heroes. We put our trust in them to deliver our babies, care for our aging parents and treat our illness and injuries. They deserve our respect and admiration.

The issue at hand is protecting an important benefit for state employees, retirees and their families, while ensuring the state’s dollars are being spent wisely. Simply paying less for the same services does nothing to modernize the State Health Plan or to address the underlying causes of rising costs.It ignores the prevailing movement to value-based care, which is already working in North Carolina to prevent illness, eliminate unnecessary spending and testing through integrated care, and manage chronic diseases. It’s time for our elected officials to put people ahead of politics and work with, not against, healthcare providers to build a better State Health Plan that improves the health of its members and protects access to care for all of North Carolina’s 10 million citizens.

Steve Lawler,

President, North Carolina Healthcare Association

NRA hardliners

I have been a hunter, recreational shooter, owner of multiple guns, and a former concealed carry card holder. I am not anti-gun, nor in my many years of professional engagement with the public have I encountered anyone who advocated universal gun confiscation.

The NRA has done good work promoting shooting sports and were it not for the mantra of NRA hardliners — any gun, any time, any place for anyone not a convicted felon or certified mentally unstable — I could support the good work. I am a strong advocate of the Second Amendment, but not as interpreted by the NRA.

Larry Swenberg

Chapel Hil

Immigrants’ health

As a family physician who focuses on the health of women and children, my heart sank when I read the article “ICE arrests dozens of people across North Carolina,” (Feb. 6). In my clinical practice, I see patients every day who have delayed the healthcare they need because of fears related to anti-immigrant sentiments and unjust immigration enforcement. As I result, I witness the negative impacts these delays have on my patients’ health and their lives.

Research has consistently showed the link between immigration policy and health outcomes. In the aftermath of a large immigration raid in Iowa, Hispanic women were more likely to have low birth weight or premature babies, even when they were citizens. A recent study in Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that an increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric alone was associated with inadequate prenatal care among both US native and US non-native Hispanic pregnant women.

Increased ICE arrests in North Carolina mean greater emotional stress for Hispanic women in our communities, regardless of their immigration status, and negative health outcomes for mothers and infants. I implore our lawmakers to work toward practical, humane immigration policies and remove ICE from our communities.

Narges Farahi, MD

Family Physician, Durham

Buses, not light rail

Light Rail had its time and place but is not the solution for 21st century public transportation. Light Rail is clean and efficient, but has the disadvantage of the high cost of building rail, power lines, and tunnels, and the inflexibility to account for changes in our cities as they grow into the future.

Today we can build clean efficient public transportation at a much lower cost, that will not interfere with existing roadways, not require tunnels, and can easily be restructured as our cities grow. The 21st century solution is to combine electric buses with dedicated bus-ways on existing roadways.

The Triangle needs to reconsider, and develop, a modern, clean, cost effective approach to public transportation.



Steve Pollak

Durham

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