In late February, H.R. 184 was introduced into the North Carolina House of Representatives. In early April, H.R. 184 made it to the North Carolina Senate where it was referred to the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate. There it sits. It’s a bad bill, catering to special interests, and need to die there.
So exactly what is H.R. 184? On April 4, 2019, Raynor James wrote an article describing the debate in the North Carolina House of Representatives over H.R. 184. In her article Raynor explained that H.R. 184 would tie the hands of State Treasurer Dale Folwell in dealing with the rapidly growing problems with the State Health Plan.
An article in The Daily Haymaker on March 26 explains some of what is going on:
Former state representative Dale Folwell (R) worked wonders in cleaning up the highly FUBAR-ed unemployment insurance system. You would think it would be a no-brainer to put him on fixing that money-bleeding nightmare known as the state health plan. (The plan made it to its current sorry state in no small part to the micro-managing mischief by legislators in both parties who saw it as their own personal piggy-bank and slush fund.)
So, along comes Dale Folwell trying to do exactly what the legislature empowered the state treasurer’s office to do years ago: competently manage the state health plan. Folwell decided taxpayers needed to understand exactly what health care providers were billing the health plan FOR.
This did not sit well with the folks at the hospitals and clinics sending in those fat, vague, non-specific bills. Armies of lobbyists were dispatched to spend dark money on ads smearing Folwell and his pricing transparency plan. A lot of politician pockets were lined. A bill got drafted (with a lot of lobbyist, um. “help”) that tied Folwell’s hands on exactly what he could to in regard to the state health plan.
The bill, H184, got its first hearing in the House Health Committee today. Conveniently, there was NO roll call vote on this expensive legislation — with a total cost over 3 years of $400 to 600 MILLION.
The bill did get amended. The time frame for the “study” on changing the health plan was shortened. The state employees — who stand to be affected the most by this bill — got their representation on the “study committee” expanded from ONE to TWO. (Isn’t that nice?) And the whole package is still going to cost the taxpayers an additional $241 MILLION.
The article then explains the problem:
There was no real good reason to do this. It went against one of the alleged core principles of the majority party. The prime beneficiaries of the state health plan — the state employees — appear to be solidly behind what Folwell is doing. Taxpayers — seeking to avoid a $400-600 MILLION hit from doing NOTHING and “studying” the idea of reform — appear to be all for it.
But the deep-pocketed lobbyists who are so kind and compassionate to campaign accounts all over Jones Street were not happy and HAD to be mollified.
Some Republicans are fighting back. There was a Resolution at the North Carolina Third District Republican Convention today that backed Dale Folwell and his efforts to clean up the State Health Plan. The Resolution passed easily.
The Resolution included the following:
In 2008, expenses for the North Carolina State Health Plan were roughly $2.2 billion; today they are roughly $3.4 billion. Medical and pharmaceutical costs are increasing five to nine percent annually and current spending projections estimate that the plan will be insolvent by 2023 unless action is taken. The campaign to fix the state healthcare plan is opposed mainly by special interests–hospitals and those who profit by the inefficiency and inflated costs of medical care under the current system.
I was told that the bill would probably die in committee. I hope that happens. However, the fact that saving taxpayer money was opposed by special interest groups should not come as a shock to any of us. That fact underlines the need for citizens to stay aware of what our legislature is doing. North Carolina is in a strong position economically–it is a place where businesses relocate. If our State Health Plan is not brought under control, our taxes will increases to cover the cost of the program and we will be much less attractive to businesses looking for a place to be.