The News and Observer reported on Christmas Day that legislation drafted but not enacted at a recent surprise special session would have kept outgoing Gov. Pat McCrory on the State Health Plan after he left office, meaning he would have received free health coverage for life.
The health care provision would have also made any outgoing Council of State member eligible for free health insurance after serving at least half a term in office, according to the newspaper.
The provision did not end up in a publicly filed bill. But the provision was discussed in closed-door Republican caucus meetings last week before it was dropped from one of the bills that swept through the legislature and reduced Cooper’s authority over appointments.
“There was a great deal of empathy for McCrory: He gave it all he could,” said Rep. Leo Daughtry of Smithfield, a Republican. “People ought to help him as much as we could.”
Daughtry and other legislators said the proposal didn’t advance far. House Speaker Tim Moore said there were too many other issues under consideration to spend much time working on the provision that would have helped McCrory, a one-term Republican.
“With all the other stuff we’ve been dealing with, that took so little bandwidth,” Moore said. “I mean, it was just a conversation about ‘this is the idea, here’s the reason,’ and the cost was just very minimal.”
Moore said the intention wasn’t to single out McCrory but to extend insurance coverage to Council of State members, noting that General Assembly members also qualify for insurance, and there has long been interest in extending that benefit to those elected department heads.
“You get folks who will leave a career in the private sector, come in for a short stint, whether it’s four years or even if it’s eight years, and they can’t fully vest for benefits,” Moore said. “If you want highly qualified people to run for those offices, it’s something you need to consider.”