North Carolina Still Lacks Employee Health Plan Decision

April 26, 2011

The state legislature in North Carolina went home for the weekend last Thursday without coming to an agreement on the cost of health insurance for state employees, teachers, or retired persons. At that point they were already outside the deadline that had been given.

Earlier last week, Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a proposal that would require all active employees to pay a monthly premium for their own health insurance for the first time in state history. As a result, a new insurance bill is required.

Last Wednesday, the North Carolina House approved a measure to retain an insurance option for those workers that did not include a monthly premium, but Republicans in the state Senate didn’t like the fact that it would cost roughly $16 million in state funding over two years. The vetoed plan had been designed to close a $515 million likely shortfall between expenses and revenues through mid-2013.

Speaking about the issue, Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) said, “It just wasn’t acceptable to our caucus at this point, so there’s no reason to stay around.” Apocada was the chief sponsor of the bill that Governor Perdue vetoed.
Apocada added that there have been several new options presented, including one that gives retirees also covered by Medicare an option without premiums, but that there hadn’t been enough time to negotiate with the House.

Jack Walker, Executive Administrator of the North Carolina State Health Plan told legislative leaders that he would be moving ahead with July 1 enrollment plans based on the cost of premiums as of last Thursday afternoon. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) explained that the delay will probably mean a second enrollment period once new premiums have been determined.

Last week, Governor Perdue explained that the biggest factor that went into her decision to veto the bill was that teachers – and specifically the North Carolina Association of Educators – were not involved in the original negotiations.