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State Health Plan Bailout – Today House Slows, Indicates Another Bill in Works?

The first hearing in the House Insurance Committee happened this morning on the state health plan bailout bill passed this week by the Senate. After requests for time to do amendments and lots of questions from members, further consideration of the bill was put off until next Tuesday at 11am, again in the House Insurance Committee. Two of the most surprising things today:

  1. Majority Leader Hugh Holliman indicated that the House and Senate were now working on another bill that would do “long-term” fixes to the state health plan. That’s the first time this has come up and is a positive sign – what the Senate has done so far has been anything but carefully considered and actually harms the plan in the long-term by sharply increasing premiums for dependents. However, why do anything in this first House bill then other than appropriate the additional money necessary to keep the plan running for a few more months until there can be more in-depth discussion about the critical issues?

     

  2. Almost every time this bill came up in the Senate, either state health plan director Jack Walker or the bill sponsor was saying it needed to be passed by April 1 or disaster – the plan would stop paying its bills and we wouldn’t save enough money. Putting this bill off for a week puts the next hearing to March 31. Holliman then stated the bill needs to be considered by the House Appropriations committee. Then it would go to the House floor. That puts any potential passage in the House well after April 1, not to mention the following House/Senate conference committee, passage again in both House and Senate of any compromise, and consideration and signing by the Governor. I guess that April 1 deadline wasn’t so firm after all.

6 Comments

  1. Van

    March 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I guess they called Walker’s bluff? I certainly didn’t feel as disgusted as I did earlier in the week when the Senate passed the bill. Was it my imagination or were those committee members seriously wanting to understand this bill and the effect it will have on State Employees and Taxpayers?

  2. Gordon Gekko

    March 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    the State Health Plan is a joke and doomed to fail. They simply dont have enough healthy members to spread the risk over, with more and more ‘boomer’ state employees cresting over 50 years of age every day. They are developing chronic conditions and a lot of um are on super pricey meds and are being scanned unnecessarily by doctors who want to visit Europe every summer.

  3. Adam Searing

    March 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I think the House will take more time – I was encouraged too.

    And as for Gordon’s comments – what are we going to do – just stop providing health coverage to nearly 700,000 North Carolinians? We need to make the paln better – not get rid of it.

  4. Phil Raynor

    March 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I am glad to see someone is taking a moment to stop and think rather than let “Dr. Walker” legislate for us. I heard someone make the comment that at this rate, dumping all the health plan participants and funding into the Medicaid system made more sense. I know, different pots of money but sometimes I wonder…

  5. Suzanne

    March 26, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Adam,

    It’s Suzanne with SEANC and I am trying to track down the amount of profit that BCBS makes just from the State Health Plan. Got any suggestions?

    Sbeasley@seanc.org

    Thanks!

  6. chuck

    March 27, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I thought the politicians were supposed to work for the people not against them, the state employee’s are the backbone of the state,people need to wake up come election time and remove these so called politicians from office and let them go to work for BCBS or the Pharmacies, since they are working for them anyway.