Washington Post highlights North Carolina’s health care crisis

If there were any doubts that reforming health care is integral to solving the economic crisis, this wonderful article in the Washington Post today by Ceci Connolly will help eliminate them.

I met with Ms. Connolly in Greensboro, N.C., in March immediately following the White House regional health reform forum. She quotes me in today’s story: “Our paying customers are slowing down, and our nonpaying customers are surging to unprecedented numbers. … We’re getting hit in both directions.”

Ceci also spoke with some of our colleagues, including Brian Toomey, CEO of Piedmont Health Services and Tim Rice, CEO of Moses Cone Health System.

Some of David Talbot’s patients paint the picture most poignantly. Talbot, medical director of HealthServe Community Clinic in Greensboro, tracks the economic crisis by the number of patients waiting to make an appointment — now almost 200, according to the article. Many patients recently lost their health insurance when they lost their job, or their work hours have been cut back and they are having trouble making ends meet.

Ceci’s article puts North Carolina’s crisis into a national perspective:

In North Carolina, more than any other state, the recession has triggered a burgeoning medical crisis. A steep rise in unemployment has fueled a commensurate increase in the number of people who do not have health insurance, including many middle-income families.

As I’ve said before, I am more optimistic now than I have ever been that our country can make meaningful changes in our health care system. If we seize this as an opportunity, and work together, we will make a difference.

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