by Anna Manning
Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports:
Folwell is unhappy with legislative action intruding on the State Health Plan’s Board of Trustees’ unanimous decision to adopt his Clear Pricing Project. He said neither House party caucus has invited him to discuss his plan.
“All we have to offer to the members of the legislature is good government. We can’t contribute to them, or send them places,” or compete with the hospitals’ large team of lobbyists, he said.
He noted the General Assembly control of the State Health Plan to the treasurer while he was still in the General Assembly. Lawmakers recognized they had neither the time nor expertise to manage the huge, complicated system. Under legislative oversight, the plan was down to three days of operating reserves, and would have been shut down by regulators if it were an insurance company, he said.
He says claims he’d cause hospitals to close are off base.
“I’ve never closed one hospital in my life. We’re trying to keep hospitals open, and independent, and profitable,” Folwell said. “They’re the ones closing hospitals.” The N.C. Rural Health Research Program lists six hospital closures since 2010, the most recent being Washington County Hospital in Plymouth on Feb. 14.
He brushed off political and personal attacks, saying he also took heat as a lawmaker championing worker’s compensation reform, and as a Commerce Department assistant secretary turning $2.5 billion in federal unemployment insurance debt into a surplus.
He attributes the criticism to hospitals’ objection to transparent pricing. They refuse to relinquish the power to dictate payments no other vendor in state government enjoys.
“There’s no turning back,” Folwell said of his plan. “People are no longer going to accept not knowing what they spend 20 percent of their income on.”