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How will health reform change the State Health Plan?

If some version of the House health care reform bill passes with its employer pay-or-play provision then the State Health Plan is in for some changes.

Under the reform proposals in the House bill North Carolina would qualify as a large employer and would need to pay at least 72.5 percent of the premium cost for individual coverage and 65 percent of the premium cost for family coverage. Currently, the state covers the full premium cost of individual employees but does not contribute to cover dependents.

There could also be more coverage required for part-time state employees as well.

The Senate bills are friendlier to big employers and will likely water down the House employer mandate. But if some of the coverage requirements stick, it will set off a political battle.

Given the track record of the State Health Plan, officials there will probably try to expand family coverage by cutting back on individual premium payments. The state has repeatedly shown that when it needs more money it will wrangle it from public employees.

Instead, the state should renegotiate its contract with Blue Cross and ask the insurance company to sacrifice something as we work to expand coverage to all North Carolinians.

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