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NC Senate Bows to Special Interests on State Health Plan

Senators passed the state health plan “reform” bill this afternoon. However, there was one significant amendment. Did the amendment perhaps reduce the $1000 jump in maximum co-insurance for state employees required by the bill? No. Perhaps the amendment lowered the 7.8% increase each year for the next two years workers will have to pay to cover their families? No. Then the amendment must have implemented a stronger drug program to save more money for employees and taxpayers? No.

Of course not. The amendment actually increased the already large premium increases workers will pay to cover their families each year. It also increased the money taxpayers will have to pay to cover plan costs by over $50 million. Why? So that North Carolina pharmacists can make more money and not face competition from mail-order pharmacies – a cost saving measure in the original bill.

In my twelve-year career advocating on health issues in North Carolina, I have rarely seen such a blatant display of the power of one special interest in health care. Senators who voted for this bill and this amendment should be ashamed. Charging families and taxpayers more money so the state can continue to overspend on prescription drugs makes little sense in any world other than the one inhabited by the NC Senate.

Let’s hope the NC House has more sense. And let’s hope that Senators who voted for this bill will hear about it from their constituents.

9 Comments

  1. Van

    March 25, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Ditto! I have never been more dissapointed and disgusted by a goup of elected officials in my 22 1/2 years as a state employee. As if we don’t have enough to worry about in todays economy, now we have to shoulder the cost of the State Health Plan fiasco!

    I wonder if Sen Rand and the rest of the Sentators who voted in favor of this bill realize just how obvious it was to those watching who is lining their pockets. Or if they realize the impact their vote had on recruiting and keeping competent State employee’s in the years to come.

    I for one will be contacting my Representative in the House to let him know my feelings and I also will be contacting a few Senators to let them know how I felt about their vote. However, the sad reality is, that eventhough most State Employee’s feel this way, only a very few ever express their opinions to the member of the General Assembly.

  2. Adam Searing

    March 25, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I agree – it’s going to take work to let members of the House know how outrageous this is. And, it shouldn’t just be state workers. Every taxpayer in NC just got on the hook for more money to pay pharmacists under the plan – and this in a budget year that is one of the worst in decades.

  3. Nick

    March 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Atrocious! It would be helpful to know which senators voted for this amendment.

  4. Will Cubbison

    March 25, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    All of them. Brock, Brunsetter and Clary voted against it. But none of them are anywhere close to being considered friends of workers.

  5. AP

    March 26, 2009 at 9:01 am

    You can go to the NC General Assembly website and see exactly who voted for and against this bill. Go to the following link and click on Passed beside of the second reading.

    http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2009&BillID=SB287&submitButton=Go

    The Senators of NC have really lost their minds. They are only out to do what is best for them. They don’t care what it does to the citizens of NC. Rand is the most self-centered human being I have seen in years. It is a shame that we don’t get the same opportunity to cut his pay and reduce his benefits. He is all about protecting the ones that hand out money to him. I hope that the citizens in his district wake up and elect a responsible person next time. He is useless.

  6. PPA

    March 26, 2009 at 10:03 am

    So I guess this mean that they will have the expense of testing every employee and their dependents to see if the smoke or if their BMI does not meet requirement. How does that save any money? These Senators don’t have the common sense to run across the room…much less make decisions that effect the people of NC.

  7. Van

    March 26, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    We may have some support in the House? There was enough opposition, questions and outright confusion in the House Insurance Committee this morning that the bill didn’t move on to the Appropriations Com. and will be discussed again next Tuesday. They need to look at the long term problem, and not try to plug the hole with the State Employees and taxpayers finger!!

    Didn’t Bev’s $250 million contribution from the Rainy Day Fund eliminate the need to “fast track” this bill?

  8. advantage web » NC State Health Plan

    October 12, 2010 at 5:51 am

    […] 3.The Progressive Pulse – NC Senate Bows to Special Interests on Senators passed the state health plan “reform” bill this afternoon. However, there was one significant amendment. … And, it shouldn’t just be state workers. Every taxpayer in NC just got on the hook for more money to pay pharmacists under the plan – and this in a budget year that is one of the worst in decades. http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2009/03/24/nc-senate-bows-to-special-interests-on-state-health-plan/ […]

  9. healthcare web » NC State Health Plan

    October 30, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    […] 10.The Progressive Pulse – NC Senate Bows to Special Interests on Senators passed the state health plan “reform” bill this afternoon. However, there was one significant amendment. … And, it shouldn’t just be state workers. Every taxpayer in NC just got on the hook for more money to pay pharmacists under the plan – and this in a budget year that is one of the worst in decades. http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2009/03/24/nc-senate-bows-to-special-interests-on-state-health-plan/ […]