by Sam Hieb
For a couple of weeks now we’ve been reading how Medicaid is the linchpin to passing an overdue North Carolina state budget. So what’s the Senate’s latest answer to gaining some predictability in Medicaid costs? A complete overhaul:
Stripping the Medicaid program from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in order to gain better cost predictability has been a key point of the Senate’s budget proposal, and remains the focus of the third edition of House Bill 1181.
…Rumblings about the lack of Medicaid cost predictability from DHHS have grown louder from senators, particularly Berger and other key Republican leaders on the appropriations committee. In the past four years, the legislature has had to fill Medicaid funding shortfalls totaling nearly $2 billion.
….It also is a sign of the level of Republican disappointment with how DHHS — under Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos — is performing on its cost-controlling and budget-forecasting expectations.
“The No. 1 roadblock causing teacher pay to remain so low for so long is Medicaid,” Berger said. “This plan should allow the General Assembly to finally focus state resources on other areas of critical importance to the people of this state.”
Of course that last quote is from Sen. Phil Berger, who has not had much time to dwell on his son’s loss to Mark Walker in the 6th District Congressional primary runoff.
Note that Gov. Pat McCrory has spoken out against the Senate plan:
In a statement, McCrory said, “the Senate’s proposed bureaucratic reorganization is impractical and undermines the progress that has been made during the past year and a half. This legislative overreach also raises some serious constitutional issues and should not be raised in the closing days of the short session.”
I understand the Senate’s frustration at not being able to get a reasonable projection of Medicaid costs either from DHHS or hospitals, which “have given conflicting information on how much the program owes them.”
But this is overkill at a late date —perhaps a shot across the bow in the hopes of resolving this issue, but still only for the time being.