Will the Passage of a Federal Healthcare Bill Be a Boon or a Bust for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Rights Advocates?

December 29, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Advocates for North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits rights are closely watching the drama currently unfolding in the US Senate regarding the health care bill. Democrats and Republicans have split entirely along party lines in the Senate — 60-40. Democrats are poised to use their filibuster-proof margin to plow through a sweeping reform of our national healthcare system. Experts say this bill might have trillion dollar implications for our national economy — and billion dollar implications for North Carolina’s economy.

So how might this bill impact North Carolina workers’ compensation policy? Given that the bill is currently thousands of pages long and contains so many sweeping changes to the system, it’s difficult to identify the key implications. But speculation abounds. Consider:

1. Massive institutional changes will likely lead to confusion in the short term.
With new rules for insurance companies, employers, and healthcare bureaucrats likely to be put in place, we should expect a certain degree of chaos initially. After all, any time a sweeping piece of legislation gets passed, confusion reigns.

2. The broad political implications might trickle down to impact the debate over North Carolina workers’ compensation coverage.

The 2009 healthcare debate has widened the already gaping schism between the national Republican and Democratic parties. In North Carolina — a state that President Obama won in 2008 by a small margin — the political ramifications of the bill’s passage for both Dems and Republicans could be huge. If the two major parties find it more difficult to work congenially with one another following this bill’s passage, this could delay pending legislation regarding North Carolina workers’ compensation, for instance.

3. Many more questions have been raised than answered.
Will this new law ultimately lead to lower premiums and more affordable coverage for small businesses? Will North Carolina workers with preexisting conditions get better coverage and thus recover faster from injuries and illnesses? Will the tremendous cost of the national bill impact the state’s economy indirectly and thus indirectly compel business owners to cut budgets and drop employees to stay competitive? How will companies that provide North Carolina health and workers’ compensation insurance adapt to the changing national environment? Will these companies adhere to the law or find ways to skirt it? Will the new rules strangle them or make them more vigorous and accountable to the public?

With so many different questions up in the air, politicians and policy makers alike are holding their tongues to see what cascading effects this bill might have.

More Web Resources:

Health Care Bill 101

Democrat 60-40 Margin: What It Means


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