A new group wants to raise $2.5 million to fight State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s plan to reduce health care spending for about 720,000 state employees and retirees.
Starting in 2020, Folwell wants to begin compensating hospitals, physicians and others at 177% of what is paid by Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for people 65 and over. He’s responsible for the N.C. State Health Plan, the biggest purchaser of N.C. health care services.
The new Partners for Innovation in Health Care has started running advertisements slamming Folwell’s proposal, which both sides agree could trim spending by more than $300 million annually. The plan would ration care and access, jeopardize the quality of care, “cripple local operations and services in every single healthcare system” across the state and cause employee layoffs, according to the group’s new website. Costs would be shifted to other N.C. health care consumers, they add.
To pay for the marketing program, the group has created a four-level membership structure ranging from $10,000 to $125,000 a year for the next six years, the website notes. Members will receive briefings and updates on legislative actions.
Joyce Kohn, a Cary-based fundraiser and public relations consultant, is the only contact listed on the website. She declined to comment, saying she didn’t have authority to speak on the group’s behalf. Julie Henry, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Healthcare Association, says that the hospital-industry group is not the sponsor of Partners for Innovation.
Folwell says he won’t change his strategy. “I’m focused on three things: bringing transparency to health care, lowering cost and pushing power out to state employees and retirees so they can make choices on their own health care,” he says.
The N.C. General Assembly, which recently started its session, is likely to discuss legislation that would limit Folwell’s authority over the health plan. Vidant Health, the Greenville-based system that offers services in nearly 30 counties in eastern N.C., has organized opposition to Folwell’s proposal by meeting with community leaders and media outlets.
Folwell has emphasized his concern about North Carolina’s promise to provide more than $30 billion of health care for retired state employees, of which less than 5% has been set aside. It’s one of the worst-funded state health plans in the nation and tough decisions are needed to resolve the under-funding, he says.