by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, State Treasurer Dale Folwell changed the conditions for the State Health Plan, as reported by Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak. Folwell reportedly increased the reimbursement rate for hospitals and shortened the deadline for health care providers to opt into the Clear Pricing Project. Havlak writes:
In his latest attempt to lure hospitals to the table, Folwell increased the rates hospitals would get from 182% to 196% of Medicare’s payments… The hospitals have between Friday and midnight Aug. 5 to sign onto the plan, or they will become out-of-network providers, forcing state employees to pay much more out-of-pocket for all their health services from those providers.
A change to the State Health Plan is desperately needed, as State Employees Association of N.C. (SEANC) Executive Director Robert Broome explains:
“If we don’t make a change now, we’re staring down the barrel of a 266% increase in premiums for state employees in just four years — that’s $133 a month for health insurance in a robust economy… And 10 years ago, there was no premium.”
The debate over the Clear Pricing Project has become less than courteous. According got Havlak:
Matters have escalated into personal attacks, and UNC Health Care has already engaged in what’s been described as a dark money scandal.
“Burn in hell, you sons of b*****s,” Cone Health’s Assistant Director of Finance, Frank Kauder, advised in an email to the State Health Plan’s Board of Treasurers. Other gems of rhetoric included his nickname for Republicans — “Retardicans” — and a rant against “the most moronic idea I have ever seen come out of our state government.”
Havlak reports that SEANC has amped up its efforts in response to the hostility:
SEANC is hitting back with its own brand of vitriol: a new site dedicated to “Million Dollar Mike,” the CEO of Vidant Health. It details the $800 million “cash stash” of Vidant’s unrestricted reserves, and CEO Dr. Michael Waldrum’s $1.2 million annual salary. Next to an unflattering picture of Waldrum is a snapshot of frowning children, presumably meant to represent some 720,000 state employees whose coverage is imperiled.