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Mission, Blue Cross each tout ‘options’
Monday, 04 September 2017 16:00
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A high-ranking official from each side shared his views on the contract standoff between Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina and Mission Health System — and sometimes threw verbal punches — on Aug. 4 during an issues forum of the Council of Independent Business Owners.

In essence, the two speakers said other alternatives are available to their respective counterpart for medical care or medical insurance. About 100 people attended the meeting at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

Their reassurances were aimed at the thousands of Western North Carolina residents with Blue Cross insurance who face worries — if the dispute is not resolved — of having to pay higher, out-of-network rates for care at Mission.

Steve Crist, BCBSNC’s vice president of the company’s group markets, spoke for 12 minutes

Jon Yeatman, Mission’s chief strategy officer and an Asheville native, spoke for about 20 minutes. 

An 18-minute question-and-answer session followed after both speakers had given their addresses.

Crist began by noting that “many of you are customers of ours, so I’d like to say ‘thank you’ for your business.”

He added that is was “unfortunate” that Mission has terminated its contract with BCBSNC, effective Oct. 5.

“We’re not here to win a PR (public relations) battle,” Crist said. “If there is any fight to be won, however, it’s the fight to control health care costs.

“There are several lenses to examine health care. First,” he said, there is “the lens of health care costs. As business-owners and leaders, you know health-care costs are second behind business payroll and inventory....

“Blue Cross has been here 84 years. We’re the only health-care company serving all 100 North Carolina counties,” Crist noted.

NCDOT backs 6 lanes through W. AVL
Monday, 04 September 2017 15:59

From Staff Reports

The North Carolina Department of Transportation announced recently that it has decided to switch its backing to six travel lanes in the portion of the I-26 Connector project involving Interstate 240 through West Asheville.

Over the decades, NCDOT generally has favored eights lanes for I-240 between the area west of Bowen Bridge and I-40, but the issue has been debated since discussions of the I-26 Connector began in the late 1980s. The 2.7-mile stretch of road has four travel lanes now.

The change to six lanes was triggered by the results of a closer study of expected traffic, according to NCDOT engineers.

Besides deciding on whether to back eight or six travel lanes, the project includes making decisions — this year — on where to put sidewalks, bike lanes and greenway paths.

In addition, NCDOT engineers have decided to drop plans to widen Interstate 40 — to as many as 12 lanes — between the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and Exit 44 on the western edge of the city.

However, NCDOT has chosen to support an effort by neighborhood residents to reduce the footprint of the project around Amboy Road, Brevard Road and I-240.

Other aspects of the I-26 Connector project include constructing a new crossing of the French Broad River north of Bowen Bridge, rebuilding the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange west of the WNC Farmers Market and making some improvements to I-40 between that interchange and the U.S. 19-23 interchange to the west.

For its next step, the state will award the contract for work on the new bridge and new interchange in 2020, according to NCDOT’s master plan. Construction might not begin until 2021.  

Alas, the plan, adopted in late July, includes no funds for widening I-240 in West Asheville. Therefore, the work would not begin until at least 2028 — and could even begin much later.

The Advice Goddess: September 2017
Monday, 04 September 2017 15:53

Yawn Juan

Q:  My friend and I are debating why it is that men don’t want you when you want them yet they’re all gung-ho when you aren’t interested. She believes that we just want what we can’t have. Could it be that simple? 
— Pondering

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