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Governor tells of need to fight opioid crisis
Thursday, 05 October 2017 11:45
By JOHN NORTH
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SWANNANOA — A key step in tackling the nation’s opioid-addiction epidemic is to ensure that as many people as possible have health insurance, Gov. Roy Cooper said during a 20-minute speech to the Council of Independent Business Owners and its guests on Aug. 31.

In underlining the magnitude of the epidemic, Cooper noted that more Americans now are killed by opioids than car wrecks. (Opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medications. They include heroin, synthetic heroin and several painkillers.)

Despite the opioid problem, he lamented that Republicans in Washington are seeking to reduce the number of people with insurance by rewriting the Affordable Care Act. Cooper also said he would like the state General Assembly to vote to expand Medicaid.

“We cannot take health insurance away from millions of people and expect to have success against the opioid crisis,” the governor said. “It requires treatment. It requires prevention.

And often, people just simply cannot afford it without coverage.”

The governor also touted the need for more spending on education so that the graduates can get good jobs — and to provide a talented workforce — for businesses and industries interested in locating or expanding in North Carolina. While education spending was increased this year by the leglistature, he said it was not enough.

Clashes between Cooper, a Democrat, and the GOP-controlled General Assembly have been well-publicized, but the governor noted — with a note of apparent pride — that  he does manage to work with the Republican legislators.

He received standing ovations upon his introduction and at the conclusion of his speech.

CIBO members and guests are known for firing tough questions at their speakers, but it was noted before Cooper’s speech that he would not be fielding any questions afterward because his day’s schedule was packed with meetings throughout Western North Carolina. Indeed, he departed shortly after speaking.

About 130 people attended the CIBO luncheon meeting at Land of the Sky Shrine Club in Swannanoa.

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Mission-BCBSNC still not negotiating as contract termination looms Oct. 5
Thursday, 05 October 2017 11:08

260K WNC customers with Blue Crosscould be socked with higher health care costs

From Staff Reports 

Mission Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina still were not talking to one another over their contract dispute, as of the Daily Planet’s Sept. 28 press deadline.

With no negotiations, no rapid resolution can be realized, which would leave, as of Oct. 5, nearly 260,000 BCBSNC customers in Western North Carolina facing steeper “out of network” charges — that is, if they get care through Mission hospital, its doctors or any Mission-owned health-care facility.

The contract expires between Mission and Blue Cross expires Oct. 5.

Even if the two sides were able to reach a new agreement in the last week of September, there would not be enough time to implement it before the existing one expires, a Blue Cross official told the Asheville Citizen-Times on Sept. 23.

“We know for a fact that Mission will be out of network on Oct. 5,” Mark Newman, vice president of Blue Cross’ network management, told the AC-T, adding that implementing a new agreement would take several weeks.
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