Moving forward to strengthen State Health Plan
Saturday, August 24, 2019
As North Carolina teachers start to return to classrooms, they will undoubtedly have a lot on their minds to prepare for a new academic year. Fortunately, they will no longer have to worry about the status of their in-network health care coverage for 2020 under the State Health Plan.
Thanks to the principled and tenacious efforts of our state’s hospitals, health systems and other partners, teachers and their families will be able to keep their in-network access to local health care providers and hospitals for the upcoming year. What a relief for them!
For months, more than 700,000 teachers, state employees and retirees have felt left in the dark and caught in the middle of an ongoing debate over how to best stabilize the State Health Plan for the long term. The North Carolina Healthcare Association and our member hospitals and health systems repeatedly offered to work with the state treasurer to come up with a common-sense solution to developing a more sustainable and transparent future for the plan. One that helps to improve citizens’ health and save the state money, without harming hospitals and communities — especially those most at risk. The offer still stands.
If the recent history of this close-call catastrophe has taught us anything, it should be that government can’t fix complex health care problems on its own. Our state’s health care providers need to be involved upfront in discussions about improving the State Health Plan and be able to offer solutions based on their unique perspectives. A “my way or the highway” approach, which puts politics ahead of people, does not lead to better outcomes or a better plan, and it certainly does not lead to a healthier North Carolina.
While we are pleased to see State Health Plan members get a reprieve from losing in-network access to their preferred hospitals and providers, we also know this subject isn’t over. The NCHA and our member health systems and hospitals are not going to wait. We are forging ahead with stakeholder discussions about how to create a better future for the State Health Plan — one that will keep the most pressing healthcare needs and interests of patients and communities first, at the head of the class, where they should be.
Stephen J. Lawler is president North Carolina Healthcare Association and a former executive with Vidant Health in Greenville.