What drives politicians to seek public office?
For some it is fame and prestige. For others, they are seeking their own financial interests. But for relatively few, it is to do something good and right for those they are elected to serve.
North Carolina State Treasurer is an example of the latter category. The most recent example of the bold conservative stands he has taken for the people of the state of North Carolina was in the news this past week. Recall that the State Health Plan covers state employees– including numerous state university system employees– but it also covers many teachers and local government employees within North Carolina.
Folwell is in charge of this plan. We learned this week that he had yanked the contract for the State Health Plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBS), and gave it to Aetna instead. This was a bold move because it took state business from a North Carolina company– that employs numerous citizens– and gave it to an entity that is headquartered out-of-state.
Why did he do this? He had been unhappy for years over the expenses that taxpayers have to pay. He knew that BCBS was overpaying hospitals, but the insurer was not permitting him to see the contracts it had with the hospital systems or the payments made. The State Health Plan therefore did not know what was being paid or the basis for it.
(I had learned from Mr. Folwell several years ago that the hospital systems were being paid many times more than the Medicare-allowable rate of payment.)
When he attempted to re-negotiate with the hospital systems, they refused.
The contract with Aetna will presumably give the state more control over what is being paid out, and will enable cost savings. It was a gutsy move on Folwell’s part, but it was the right thing to do.
Some might question to what extent BCBS is serving the public interest. For instance, readers might recall that BCBS of North Carolina several years ago abruptly terminated the insurance plans of many families that were grandfathered under Obamacare. These families had enjoyed the more economical rates under those old plans, but BCBS wanted to force them into much more expensive plans that complied with Obamacare requirements. (The “Affordable Care Act” raised the cost of health insurance. The name of the law promoted by Obama and passed by Congress is an oxymoron).
But Folwell’s insights strike closer to home also. The Rhino Times reports:
Folwell said he was very concerned about the $1.7 billion in school bonds passed by the voters of Guilford County.
He said, “Voters approved for this debt to be issued by a 60/40 margin but disapproved of the funding to pay for the bonds by a 60/40 margin. That’s a huge concern to me.”
He also said he was concerned because Guilford County didn’t spend the $300 million in bonds passed in 2020 when interest rates and construction costs were at historic lows.
So the state Treasurer also is being attentive to local governments and whether they might be over-extending themselves– or forcing their citizens into huge tax increases. This acknowledgment by Folwell comes at a time when school board leaders are admitting projects are coming in way over budget, and are refusing to economize.
Meanwhile, the socialists on the county school board are refusing to seat the Republican nominees for the school board seat vacated by Pat Tillman when he moved over to the county commissioners’ board.
The Republicans in Raleigh would be doing the people of Guilford County a huge favor if they would break up the Guilford County Schools system. Let the socialists have their own mess in Greensboro, and free the rest of the county’s residents from their clutches.