Opinion/Philanthropy Journal – State blew Blue deal

By Todd Cohen

North Carolina messed up.

Blue Cross gave us a rare chance to think hard about tough health issues we face.

But instead of a statewide conversation about how best to deliver health care and attack health problems, we got politics and business as usual.

Missing in action was leadership.

Blue Cross, Insurance Commissioner Jim Long, watchdog groups and the news media all could have helped fill a void in a state in which no one, it seems, will risk speaking up and reaching out to find common ground on which to build the future.

Blue Cross failed to sell its vision that for-profit status was critical to its future and ours.

While Blue Cross told its story at public hearings, North Carolinians never seemed to care about or understand the stakes.

Jim Long flubbed a chance to show he could bring together parties with sharply different ideas.

Instead, Long bullied Blue Cross into making concessions he could use to cover his tracks if he okayed the conversion but insurance rates still went up.

Watchdog groups blew a chance to help broker a deal to produce a better Blue Cross and create a foundation to spur progress on health.

And the news media failed to help North Carolinians sort through complex and troubling health issues.

While Blue Cross has opted to remain nonprofit, those tough health issues remain, as does the need for leaders who can help us find ways to make North Carolina a better place to live and work.

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