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Published November 15, 2009, 10:39 PM

Health Care Reform Series: Part One

Tonight in the first part of our special series on health care reform, we hear from North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm.

By: Casey Wonnenberg, WDAZ

To say it's been a heated topic is an understatement. Millions of people have marched, went to tea parties, or held other gatherings to announce their support or protest against health care reform.

Tonight in the first part of our special series on health care reform, we hear from North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm.

It's something that affects everyone in the U.S....health insurance.

Adam Hamm says, “People get nervous. People get antsy.”

North Dakota Insurance commissioner Adam Hamm says the healthcare reform bill needs to do three things for him to be in favor of it.

Hamm says, “Number one it's going to have to start controlling costs. Second thing it has to do is figure out a way to expand access, and then third whatever they come up with better be able to pay for itself from day one.”

That means the bill can't affect those negatively who are on Medicare or Medicaid. Hamm also says the reform has to allow more people to be insured, and it can't increase the national deficit or create more taxes.

Hamm says, “The last thing we need is to add more expenses and costs to the system.”

As far as government-run healthcare, Hamm says it comes down to whether private businesses will be able to compete with the government.

“If it's structured in such a way that it really isn't a fair competitor to private insurance companies, but it's really a rigged competitor, it's always going to be able to subsidize itself with more taxpayer dollars instead of premiums,” says Hamm.

Hamm says not only does the national health care system need to be reformed, but also the state's system.

Hamm says, “I want more competition and choice.”

Right now about 90 percent of North Dakotans have Blue Cross Blue Shield as their insurance provider. Hamm says he's working to get more insurance companies interested in North Dakota.

“Competition and choice works not only to help keep premiums down, but it also expands the types of products and plan designs that companies come up with,” says Hamm.

Hamm says the same thing goes for the national health care system....one company, even the government, can't have a monopoly on your health.

“This country will not work on a single payer system,” says Hamm.

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