by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell launched his Clear Pricing Project back in October 2018, and June 30 is the deadline for providers to sign onto the in-network list for the State Health Plan (SHP). Despite this, Folwell’s pricing initiative could potentially come to an end before it even goes into effect, writes JLF’s Jordan Roberts in a recent update. According to Roberts:
Shortly after the announcement of the Clear Pricing Project, lawmakers introduced House Bill 184 with the support of the North Carolina Healthcare Association, the lobbying organization that represents hospitals. If signed into law, House Bill 184 would freeze the State Treasurer’s plan and form a study committee to look at the long-term spending problems of the SHP. There was plenty of debate over House Bill 184, but it passed the House.
…The future of House Bill 184 is unclear. After passing the House, the bill currently is sitting in the Senate Rules Committee… [However] Richard Carver of the Winston Salem Journal reported that as House Bill 184 seems to have lost momentum at the General Assembly.
While certain hospitals have been vocal about their opposition to the treasurer’s plans, many others have already signed on as network providers for SHP. As Roberts writes:
None of the hospitals that have been publicly fighting the treasurer has signed on. WRAL reports “The State Health Plan, as it works now, has some 15,000 contracts in place covering roughly 65,000 providers. The new plan, set to take effect Jan. 1, has 640 finished contracts on hand, representing 10,000 providers, though the actual number may be higher due to a backlog in processing.”
At the end of the day, Robert writes:
Reference-based pricing has the potential to save the state millions and improve affordability for the members of the SHP. However, there have to be enough providers “in-network” to keep costs down for the state employees and provide sufficient access. As the deadline approaches for contracts to be signed, the size of Treasurer Folwell’s SHP network for the Clear Pricing Project remains unknown.