The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday August 12th

Inappropriate in?uence? Questions remain about BCBS health care mailer

It takes guts for politicians to stand up to large corporations. But N.C. Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, seems to have the fortitude for it.

Kinnaird recently joined the ranks of people calling for BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina to be examined for its campaign against a government insurance option.

BCBS recently sent out a mailer encouraging recipients to contact U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to oppose a government-run insurance option.

Legislators received complaints, concerned that health insurance premiums were funding a campaign against a government-run insurance plan.

Furthermore, concern was voiced that BCBS was opposing a government-run option when it controls such a large portion of the health insurance market in North Carolina.

These concerns seem legitimate.

BCBS is a huge health insurance provider. There are more than 3.7 million members of BCBS of North Carolina — about one out of every three residents of the state.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, is leading the charge against BCBS. She said that BCBS doesn’t have shareholders because it’s a nonprofit. Therefore, the state has to hold it accountable.

We agree.

But that doesn’t mean BCBS is some kind of big, bad insurance company that’s out to hurt the common Joe or oppose all health care reform.

Lew Borman, a spokesman for BCBS, stated in an e-mail he thinks BCBS and its goals are being misrepresented.

He said that even though BCBS is a nonprofit, it paid $162 million in state, federal and local taxes last year. Borman added that BCBS has not used any government money to fund its mailings.

Borman also said that BCBS is not opposed to health reform or the government helping out Americans who can’t afford their premiums.

He said the company is doing what it said it would: informing North Carolina residents of the health care debate and its potential impact.

And they definitely are.

But that doesn’t mean the BCBS shouldn’t be held accountable. They’re entrusted with much of the state’s health insurance. And because of that, we’re behind Kinnaird’s call for BCBS to be examined 100 percent.

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