Group promotes health care plan

An N.C. nonprofit's proposed statewide health insurance plan would require contributions from government, business, insurers and individuals to try to achieve affordable coverage for everyone in the state.

The proposal, released Monday by the N.C. Justice Center's Health Access Coalition, outlines goals including:

Cover every child and make prevention a priority by fully funding existing N.C. Health Choice and Medicaid programs for children from poor families. It also called for requiring families that can afford health coverage for their kids but don't buy it to pay a penalty on their state income tax returns.

Expand public coverage for lower-income parents and pregnant women by expanding Medicaid to cover all pregnant women and parents of children already eligible for Medicaid and Health Choice coverage.

Guarantee affordable choices for all North Carolinians by banning insurers from charging more or denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions. It would also require everyone to pay a regular monthly premium based on income.

The plan also seeks to reduce health care costs by emphasizing preventive medicine, encouraging healthier lifestyles, and establishing a state institute to assess quality, cost and effectiveness of treatments.