Kit Cramer talks healthcare with NC Influencer Series

August 22, 2018

In an effort to elevate policy discussions and make sure candidates focus on the most important issues, the Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer, and the Durham Herald-Sun assembled a panel of 60 influential North Carolinians in advocacy, business, education and government to answer bi-weekly questions.

Our Chamber President Kit Cramer was selected and, of course, jumped at the opportunity to amplify the business voice of WNC and the greater state. For the past month, she has answered questions on the economy, political polarization, and healthcare–and will continue to speak about issues alongside NC’s finest and most prominent leaders.

In the Influencer Series’ first question, she was asked “What is the single biggest challenge our leaders must confront to secure a better future for North Carolina?”

Her reply: “Communities that will win the future are those that can grow, attract and retain talent. North Carolina leaders need to look at both short-and long-term solutions. A long-term issue that needs much more focus is how we provide quality care for our youngest children. Research shows that quality care in the first years of a child’s life establishes critical brain pathways that will literally be pruned if they are not fully developed. Nobel economist James Heckman states that the best return on investment can come from early intervention, saving money on future remediation, social services and incarceration. We can best meet our state’s future talent needs by investing in helping parents provide quality early care experiences for children.”

Last week’s Influencer Series discussed the challenges of health care, and how we should implement future policy. Below are Kit’s responses.

1. Should Medicaid be expanded in North Carolina? Why or why not?
In Western NC we’ve long called for Medicaid to be expanded because of our poor payor mix. As a representative of business, I know that companies end up paying more in premiums to cover the costs of those who show up at the emergency room for care. We’d like to see those costs come down, and expanding Medicaid would be one way to do it.

2. Listed below are some of the health care challenges North Carolina faces. Rank them in order of importance, with 1 being the most pressing.

1 – Affordable health insurance
2 – Access to care in rural areas
4 – Affordable medical services
3 – The cost of prescription drugs
5 – Consolidation among hospitals

3. What should North Carolina do to address the issue that you ranked above as most
North Carolina leaders should develop healthcare policy that allows for different approaches to making health insurance more affordable for a broader range of citizens. Since Asheville has a high percentage of small businesses who have talked about the burden of health insurance costs, we’re investigating the idea of providing an association plan. But the rules that would allow that are coming from the federal government, not the state.

4. Is health care a fundamental right that every citizen is entitled to? Why or why not?
We’re not a third world country. Health care should be a basic right.

5. Readers chose this question for us to ask you: “Universal health care is a fundamental right recognized by the poorest countries. What steps can North Carolina take to achieve that goal?”

If North Carolina wanted to be a leader in universal health care we would not only expand Medicaid, we’d invest in population health and the social determinants of health. There is a lot of research out there to support these approaches.

6. Please rate how well the 2018 candidates are doing in focusing on policy solutions. We will ask this question on every survey to track any change in sentiment between now and November.
Too soon to tell.