“I don’t care what you call it, we have to do something so that the power of the federal government comes to bear,” Hagan said. “The president has informed us that he would like a bill by October.”
Fresh on the heels of a small-business roundtable at Mountain BizWorks, Hagan said only one of the business owners there was able to afford insurance for employees.
“It shows the necessity and need to find some way to have affordable insurance for the citizens of our county,” she said.
But she emphasized that a lot of work still needs to be done. "There's so many more pieces to this puzzle," she said. Those pieces include education, wellness programs and preventative treatment to decrease the level and overall cost of medical treatment.
Meanwhile, local leaders touted initiatives like the Asheville Project, aimed at keeping city employees healthy and care costs lower, and Project Access, a local volunteer system providing care to uninsured Buncombe residents.
Buncombe Commissioner Holly Jones for one, did agree with the need for nationalized care. “We need national coverage,” she said. “And we’ve got to do it in a broader way.”
The meeting, only an hour long, was tacked onto a series of stops by Hagan in Western North Carolina, and some took the opportunity to pitch other concerns.
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy asked Hagan’s help in pushing the Environmental Protection Agency into paying more attention to the CTS of Asheville site. And Buncombe Board of Commissioners Chairman David Gantt said he wanted stimulus funds to install a system at the Buncombe landfill that would speed up the breakdown of garbage while trapping methane gas for energy use.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer
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