A nonprofit that promotes the health of mothers and babies has released its statement on the state legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 86, which allows the sale of cheaper health insurance plans that don’t include all the benefits required in Affordable Care Act plans.
This is the full statement released by the March of Dimes of North Carolina:
“As the oldest organization in the United States advocating for the healthy moms and healthy babies, the March of Dimes urges Governor Roy Cooper to veto SB 86 and to oppose the further creation of association health plans (AHPs) in North Carolina. We ask the Governor to veto this bill and to continue working with March of Dimes and other health organizations on finding a true solution for closing the state’s health insurance coverage gap.
The March of Dimes believes that SB 86 would hinder access to comprehensive health insurance and would weaken the insurance market for all North Carolinians. AHPs are a mechanism to provide health coverage to small businesses and self-employed individuals without having to meet the standards and consumer protections that would otherwise apply to plans sold to small businesses and individuals on the Health Insurance Exchange.
Chief among our concerns is that AHPs can exclude benefits like maternity care and may also set annual and lifetime spending caps for any of the essential health benefits not covered. This type of skimpy coverage could be devastating for a family that has a premature baby or a child born with a birth defect. In instances where these critical benefits are not covered, AHPs do not protect patients by providing for a maximum out of pocket maximum spending limit, so patients are often responsible for paying much more in health care costs than they would in the regular marketplace. Our greatest fear is that these limits could prevent a mother or a baby from getting the treatment they need to live long and happy lives.
The March of Dimes will continue to work with Governor Cooper and the General Assembly to find comprehensive, responsible alternatives for expanding access in our state, but SB 86 and AHPs are bad for patients and bad for North Carolina.”