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.