by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak reported on the status of North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell’s Clear Pricing Project. Havlak reports that the major hospital conglomerates that have been boycotting the Clear Pricing Project did not meet the deadline on Monday to sign up as network providers. Havlak writes:
Without major reforms, the State Health Plan will go broke within the next four years. The state auditor reported the plan is at significant risk for overpaying medical claims — to the tune of a potential $48.6 million just from 2008-10.
…The Clear Pricing Project is Folwell’s attempt to clean things up. By tying reimbursements to Medicare payments, he plans to eradicate the opacity he has long blasted as “secret contracts and high prices.” He expects the reforms to save taxpayers roughly $166 million, and plan members another $34 million in reduced costs — if they succeed.
Healthcare providers have rejected the fixed rates Folwell has offered and instead support House Bill 184, which would delay any potential reforms by creating a committee to study the State Health Plan and propose other options. Folwell is not convinced House Bill 184 would be effective:
“I have files and boxes full of studies over the last 15 years, and during that entire period of time, all that’s happened is more secret contracts,” Folwell said. “H.B. 184 is a piece of legislation that is meant to do one thing: maintain the status quo of secret contracts and high costs.”
If things go unchanged, state employees could face premiums that are 266 percent of their current rates. Havlak quotes Folwell:
“We have a responsibility to build this network. But individuals should be outraged that we have offered on their behalf nearly 100% profit on average to these institutions, and we continue to be boycotted,” Folwell said. They should be outraged at what’s been happening to their health-care costs and their family premiums.”