Governor plans to sellout Medicaid recipients

NC-medicaid-for-sale

Poor kids, disabled, elderly to be put at mercy of for-profit insurance co.’s

How do you take North Carolina’s model Medicaid program – the  highly efficient one with the lowest rate of spending growth in the nation, run by the award-winning non-profit Community Care North Carolina – and make a buck off of it?

By selling it off to Wall Street!

That’s the “bold plan” offered this week by Gov. McCrory and Department of Health and Human Services chief, Aldona Wos. For-profit insurance companies will get guaranteed cash flow – and a lot of it, reports the Charlotte Observer:

“Managed care companies would receive a set amount of money for each person enrolled in their health-care program. The state and federal government spend about $13 billion on Medicaid in the state, with the federal government picking up more than 60 percent of the cost.” [emphasis added] Charlotte Observer, 4/4/13

In a statement responding to the announcement, N.C. Medical Society president Robert Seligson questioned “the wisdom of handing off this important function off to Wall Street.”

“[I]f the administration’s idea of reform is bringing in out-of-state corporations so they can profit by limiting North Carolina patients’ access to health care and cutting critical medical services to our state’s most vulnerable citizens, that is not change we can support.” — Robert Seligson, 4/3/13

Kevin Rogers with the grassroots community organization Action NC said many important questions have yet to be answered about a proposal to sellout North Carolina Medicaid recipients to the highest bidders.

“We are still waiting for the details of this plan to emerge, and we have significant concerns about how much disclosure recipients will get about each plan, what happens when a procedure is deemed medically necessary but not covered by the plan, and how enrollees can change from one plan to another. But from what we seen now, one could scarcely imagine a Medicaid system friendlier to the insurance industry and less friendly to those on the Medicaid rolls. [emhasis added] Kevin Rogers, 4/5/13

And about getting those answers, we don’t have a lot of confidence in NC DHHS Secretary Wos, who, responding to a question by a reporter about how the public will be able to track her agency doling out $13 billion in taxpayer money to private for-profit companies, at the press conference on Wednesday said this:

“The word transparency can get pretty dangerous.”

Seriously, though, she just wants to do her job without having to answer questions from pesky reporters or the public. Watch the video:

Government accountability isn’t dangerous. The real danger here is taking a program that is not broken and upon which 1.5 million North Carolina children, the poor, the elderly, and people with disabilities depend and handing their health care over to unaccountable for-profit enterprises that by law really only care about maximizing shareholder value – and advertising budgets – and executive compensation packages – and… are we still talking about providing health care?