Commentary

Medicaid giveaway: An exclamation point on a dreadful legislative session

MedicaidThe endless 2015 legislative session appears, mercifully, to be nearing a conclusion after nine long months. With the passage of the budget early this morning, legislators are now free to wrap up final details and adjourn for the year. Unfortunately, one of those final details will be giving away the state’s award winning Medicaid program to giant, for-profit insurance companies. As Lynn Bonner reports this morning in Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Legislators have agreed to privatize North Carolina’s $15 billion Medicaid program, a change that doctors and hospitals have been fighting for months, but which some Republican legislators have championed as a remedy for unpredictable spending.

Under House bill 372, three insurers would be given contracts to offer statewide Medicaid managed care plans. The state would have up to 10 contracts with “provider-led entities,” or groups of doctors and hospitals, that would enroll patients in regional managed care networks.

Rather than pay for each hospital visit or medical procedure as it does now, Medicaid would give the companies a fee for each patient when they enroll. The government would not be liable for cost overruns.”

In many ways. of course, this is a perfectly apt conclusion to the session. The 2015 session opened nine long months ago with one obvious and overriding imperative: North Carolina needed to follow the lead of 30 other states and expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Such an act would have saved thousands of lives per year, pumped billions of dollars into the state’s economy and strengthened an already highly effective program. The state’s feckless governor admitted these facts at times even as he manufactured excuses not to act.

Now, however, the decision has been made to, essentially, do the opposite. Rather than expanding the program to save lives, state leaders will heed the siren song of fat cat corporate lobbyists and give away this enormously valuable public asset to a handful of giant corporations that will, in turn, squeeze profits out of it by denying services to people in need.

The bottom line: More poor people will die, our economy will suffer unnecessarily and wealthy, out-of-state corporations will pad their profits. It’s hard to think of a concluding act that better symbolizes the awful 2015 session.

3 Comments


  1. Steve Harrison

    September 18, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Big question: How is having only 6 Regions better than the current 14 (I think) under CCNC? Methinks a whole lot of people will fall through those cracks, and/or end up having to travel a long way to get treatment.

  2. Pat Ferguson

    September 18, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Steve – that is exactly what they hope will happen. This is about the worst thing the NCGA could have done without consulting the people or at least their fellow legislators. What happened to the $66 million surplus in Medicaid in June or so? Is THIS why Ms. Wos resigned – her job was done?

  3. Ethel Stafford

    September 21, 2015 at 8:08 am

    What do our Senators, Congressmen and Governor think they are doing to our poor families in NC?

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