House finds new ways to make state workers pay

The North Carolina House passed the proposed State Health Plan fix out of the Insurance Committee today, but not before it shifted more costs to state workers by protecting more special interests.

The Senate bill, which is frightening enough, achieved some savings by charging higher co-pays for therapist and chiropractor visits. That savings was then passed on to all members through decreased cost sharing. The Senate originally proposed similar cost savings from pharmacists, but pharmacists were able to shift that burden to state workers.

Now come the chiropractors and therapists. At the behest of chiropractors the House stripped out the provisions that would require higher co-pays, which means the House Appropriations Committee will now have to find the forgone millions in savings. Guess where they will likely get the money? Blue Cross? The House might end up requiring steeper dependent premium hikes than the Senate.

There was also some drama in the committee today as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO Bob Greczyn and State Employees Association of North Carolina lobbyist Ardis Watkins addressed lawmakers. Not surprisingly, Greczyn doesn’t think he makes too much in compensation and doesn’t think Blue Cross is at all to blame for the State Health Plan shortfall. Watkins asked legislators to get cash to the State Health Plan and then take time to figure out a long term fix.

Lawmakers thanked Greczyn for his time and asked no tough questions. Then they gave a financial boost to chiropractors, shifted more costs to state workers, and adjourned. The bill now goes to Appropriations. I can’t think of any powerful interests that have not been granted special consideration in this bill, but the folks on Jones Street never fail to surprise me.

3 Comments

  1. Adam Searing

    April 2, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    It’s like a different universe in the House Insurance Committee where North Carolinians (including state workers) aren’t losing their jobs and where no one’s health costs are going up so they can’t afford to buy coverage for their family. In that world it’s still OK to make health insurance more expensive in response to the special interests.

    Too bad Bob Greczyn didn’t have to answer questions from the people at the Obama health care forum earlier this week who were trying to apply for insurance at his company and got quoted premiums of over $3000 a month!

    Too bad those same people’s elected representatives didn’t see fit to ask those questions on their behalf.

  2. Van

    April 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    “I can’t think of any powerful interests that have not been granted special consideration in this bill…..” Neither can I, except for maybe State Employee’s, but somehow we only factor into their equation on the back end, the ones who, along with the taxpayers (us also), will be stuck with paying for it!!!!@!!

    I was sitting next to a SEANC member, who after the vote was taken, broke down in tears. If this piece of political b#*(&! s^%% actually passes the House, there will be alot more people crying.

    This whole mess makes me wonder if “Dr Jack” and the rest of his travelling State Health Plan show (staff) are actually State Employee’s or work for BCBS. I can’t imagine any other State agency getting away with as much as they do….or he does.

    Although, “Dr Jack” did speak honestly when asked about one of the ammendments. He said laughing, “I am not an MD”. Really?…

  3. incomm65

    April 4, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I predict a mass exodous of State Employees if the job market improves. I also predict a large gain of Republicans in 2010.
    Hows all that HOPE and CHANGE working out for you?