New State Health Plan Deadline Looms

Aug 5, 2019

Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Monday night at midnight is the new deadline for doctors and hospitals to sign on to the refined State Health Plan. Those that don't would go out of network, leaving the more than 700,000 North Carolinians on the plan to stare at potentially significantly larger hospital bills in 2020.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell wants to increase hospital pricing transparency and reduce health care spending in the State Health Plan by $200 million and launched the Clear Pricing Project to achieve those goals. In short, the proposal offers hospitals a take-it-or-leave-it option to accept reimbursement of about double what Medicare pays. But many hospitals have not agreed to play ball.

"We agree with the Treasurer and we agree with most North Carolinians that health care is too expensive," said N.C. Healthcare Association President Steve Lawler. "How we get there and how we solve that problem is where we disagree."

Still, even if hospitals don't sign by midnight, it's conceivable there's still time. Plans for 2019 don't expire until December 31 and open enrollment doesn't begin until October 1.

In late July, Folwell adjusted his initial offer up from about 186 percent of Medicare, to 196 percent of Medicare. There have been some smaller hospitals to join the plan, though the state's biggest medical providers have not signed on the dotted line.

"This final offer is very generous; almost doubling the rate that Medicare pays providers," Folwell said in a statement. "We urge all hospitals to stop the unreasonable attacks and respond to this reasonable offer."

Folwell met with leaders from the UNC Health Care system Monday, though nothing from that meeting had been disclosed by noon.