by Locker Room contributor
North Carolina’s plutocracy has semi-officially decided to get behind health care overhaul despite vast and numerous problems in the bills and implementation. Brad Wilson, incoming CEO of the state’s quasi-public nonprofit health insurer, made the announcement this morning at a panel sponsored by the North Carolina Chamber and the North Carolina Bankers Association. Wilson borrowed the “plutocracy” term from UNC Hospital CEO Bill Roper, who was also on the panel. Only one panelist, Jack Bailey from Glaxo Smith Kline, talked about the value of markets.
Not once during the discussion moderated by WRAL’s David Crabtree did anyone mention consumer-driven health or health savings accounts (HSAs) even though all five panelists talked about preventive care, patient responsibility, changing how we pay for care, and improving quality. Consumer-driven care is the only proven way to achieve those goals.
So how bad is the overhaul going to be? HHS Secretary Lanier Cansler, in remarks before the panel discussion, said Medicaid pays 85% of cost to hospitals. Roper and Victor Dzau of Duke Hospitals said Medicaid pays 65% of what private insurers pay. All three warned that providers could easily stop seeing Medicaid patients. Cansler added that the overhaul could add 600,000 people to Medicaid in the state at a net cost of $500 million a year, and the expansion would make the existing budget challenges for the program “more challenging.” Those budget challenges already make it more than likely the state will cut payments to providers and leave people with less access to care despite having coverage.
And private coverage? Wilson said insurance premiums would also climb by 50% in the short term.
To sum it up, the people who run the state are willing to have higher taxes, higher premiums, and worse health care for everyone in the state because “this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part” and the plutocracy are just the guys to do it!