Asheville Area News


Date ArticleType
8/10/2009 Chamber
Asheville Area Chamber's Health Insurance Pilot Program Passes NC House and Senate

Carol Hensley
Assistant Vice President Small Business and Entrepreneurship
(828) 258-6116

The Health Insurance Pilot Program or H.B. 212 passed the North Carolina General Assembly on August 6, 2009 and was delivered to Governor Perdue on Friday, August 7, 2009 where it awaits her signature of approval.

The Health Insurance Pilot Program aims to allow the pooling of small and large businesses with hopes to demonstrate an affordable employer based health insurance plan for businesses. The pilot program could help to insure as many as 25,000 workers in the Asheville area.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Business Healthcare Roundtable have been working on a plan to provide affordable health insurance for local employees and employers for the past six years. The process has involved discussion with and input from large and small business in Buncombe County, physician groups, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and United Healthcare. “Asheville is comprised of many great small businesses. We have long recognized the rising cost of health insurance and the inability of many of our small businesses to afford insurance for their employees. We are excited that Asheville can lead in the attempt to help bring affordable health insurance to North Carolina,” said Richard J. Lutovsky the President & CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber employees and leaders from Western North Carolina are now working diligently to put the pilot program into practice. Many of Buncombe County’s largest employers will be participating in the final design of the product. H.B. 212 received unanimous support of all the members of the Western North Carolina delegation. The bill’s primary sponsors are Representatives Bruce Goforth, Susan Fisher, Ray Rapp and Jane Whilden. “This is a great opportunity for Western North Carolina to be the first pilot program in the state that allows employers to work together to reduce health insurance costs and make it easier for our companies to provide the insurance that so many residents need today,” said Representative Bruce Goforth. Senator Martin Nesbitt led the efforts in the North Carolina Senate.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a 2,100-member organization representing 86,000 employees. Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of increasing the region’s livability by advancing its economic vitality. The Chamber moved to a new location in early 2006 and is now the home to the 4,000 square foot Visitor Center which welcomes 200,000 visitors per year.