by Diane Rufino, March 25, 2019
NORTH CAROLINIANS, WE NEED YOU IN RALEIGH TOMORROW MORNING !!
Tomorrow morning (Tuesday), legislators in the House Health Committee will vote on HB184 – a bad bill that will cost taxpayers and State Health Plan members more than $1 million per day if it’s enacted.
HB184 (“Study State Health Plan Design”) was drafted, proposed, and is supported by those who want to frustrate NC Treasury Secretary Dale Folwell in his ability to question exorbitant state health plan costs and to come up with a plan to meet state workers healthcare needs while cutting costs and saving the taxpayers money. More specifically,, the bill was written at the behest of hospital lobbyists to stop Treasurer Folwell from moving forward with reforms to the State Health Plan (the “Clear Pricing Plan”) – reforms that will save Plan members $57 million every year in reduced out-of-pocket expenses as well as save taxpayers more than $258 million annually.
The opposition to Folwell began when he dared to ask for transparency in the billing of services. He wanted to know how much hospitals were charging for procedures, tests, scans, services, etc. The response was blunt and clear – hospitals would not provide detailed information about their costs and they said they didn’t think they should have to. While hospitals are claiming they need to charge the costs that they do because they are financially strapped, what the taxpayer doesn’t know is that one of its CEO’s made $5.5 million in salary and received another $500,000. when he retired. They have extensive investments and have funds sitting in accounts in the Caribbean. AND they have plenty of funds to lobby. It does not sit well with taxpayers when a special interest group wants to continuing gauging their pockets because of claims of insolvency yet they appear to be cash-rich behind the scenes.
HB184 would create the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Sustainability of the North Carolina State Health Plan (Committee) to usurp authority from Secretary Folwell. The bill reads: “The purpose of the Committee is to examine the needs and concerns of North Carolina teachers, State employees, and retirees participating in the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees (State Health Plan) and to redesign the State Health Plan in a way that adopts new practices and payment methodologies that promote health while incentivizing participation from both enrollees and providers.”
Those who proposed the bill and are supporting it are those who have been coopted by the hospital lobbyists and who are taking the side of the healthcare industry. To be clear, this is legislation that puts special interests (hospitals, and by association, physicians) ahead of the taxpayers. The state has massive unfunded liabilities in the State Health Plan which will ultimately bleed North Carolinian taxpayers, and Folwell is trying hard to fix it. He has a track record of fixing such problems.The special interests want to kick the can down the road while those unfunded liabilities that the taxpayers are ultimately responsible for will just continue to balloon.
Hospitals want to delay these important reforms, and HB 184 would block Treasurer Folwell from implementing the Clear Pricing Project in 2020. Even though the State Health Plan Board of Trustees unanimously approved the Clear Pricing Project last year, hospitals want the General Assembly to “study” the issue for two years. That’s code for “let the hospitals keep overcharging for care while we prevent the Treasurer from doing the job he was elected to do.”
The bill’s primary sponsors are: Reps Josh Dobson (R-Avery, McDowell, Mitchell), Julia Howard (R-Davie, Rowan), William Brisson (R-Bladen, Sampson), and Gale Adcock (D-Wake). Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Pitt, Lenoir) is also supporting the bill. It is currently in the House Health Committee, where it’s fate will be determined. The chairman of that committee is Dr. Greg Murphy (R-Pitt). In general, if a committee chairman opposes a bill, he has the power to hold it indefinitely in committee, as has been done in the past by Senate committee chairmen on pro-gun bills. Steven Rader, in commenting on an article in The Daily Haymaker about the fight over the NC State Health Plan, noted: “Greg Murphy, in bringing this up for a vote as committee chairman, tells you a lot more about where he stands on Folwell than how he may ultimately cast his individual vote.” Note that Rep. Murphy still has time to remove it from the agenda if he backs our State Treasurer and what he is doing on behalf of taxpayers. We hope he will do so. Rader further commented:
“The 3rd Congressional District Republican Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution supporting Treasurer Folwell against the special interests. I hope chairman Murphy can take a hint that grassroots Republicans are strongly behind Folwell and against the greedy special interests. The ball is in Murphy’s court and I hope in the end he will stand with the taxpayers and with grassroots Republicans and take this special interest bill off his committee agenda for the rest of this session. Whether he backs Folwell or helps strip his powers will be a big factor in whether he is worthy of consideration for Congress.”
We need conservatives to be CONSERVATIVE on this crucial issue. Contact your representatives ASAP and tell NOT to vote for the bill.
Tomorrow, interested parties will be traveling to Raleigh, hopefully to the House Health Committee Meeting at 10:00 am. at the Legislative Office Building (LOB), Room 643 and then to speak with representatives in person.
Brant Clifton, “#ncga: Bill Tying Dale Folwell’s Hands on State Health Plan Slated for Committee Action on Tuesday,” The Daily Haymaker, March 24, 2019. Referenced at: http://dailyhaymaker.com/?p=23062&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+dailyhaymaker%2FgjBo+%28The+Daily+Haymaker+%3A+A+Carolina-Flavored+Dose+of+Common+Sense+Conservativism%29
House Bill 184 (HB184) Text – https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H184v1.pdf
House Bill 184 (HB 184) Sponsors and history — https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/HB184
House Standing Committee on Health – https://www.ncleg.gov/Committees/CommitteeInfo/HouseStanding/26