Welcome to the YES! Weekly Pop Quiz, where we ask local politicians and public servants about their jobs. This week, we address questions to members of the Forsyth and Guilford County delegations to the NC General Assembly about the shortfall in the State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees. The rules are simple: no research, no callbacks.
1. What amount of money does the plan need infused immediately to avoid insolvency, as reported recently by the Associated Press?
2. What should be done to close the gap between revenue and expenses in the program?
Rep. Alma Adams (D-Guilford, District 58)
1. I am not sure. I’m not really thinking [about that.] I’m recuperating. I had a little problem with a cold. I don’t recall right now. It’s Christmas. I still have family here. [X] 2. We’re going to have to look at the budget very carefully what we spend, and make sure the priorities are priorities, and were not wasting. I don’t know that it’s going to fill that hole, but it’s a start. [ ]
Rep. Maggie Jeffus (D-Guilford, District 59)
1. $300 million [ ]
2. I think probably we’re going to have provide a little more money for the health plan. In addition to that, we’re going to look at some of the benefits, maybe increase some of the co-pays, probably streamline some of the things in the program. I don’t think we have had a good chance to figure out what’s happening…. I’m hoping we won’t have to raise the premiums on the family plan. We certainly want to limit the expense to the employee and the families. [ ]
Rep. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth, District 72)
1. I am not sure of that number. I have heard several numbers and amounts, and at this point I’m not sure. [X]
2. Certainly we are going to have to look at every area of government and see where there are areas that we can scale back. With the economy the way it is and people needing more services from the state it’s going to be more difficult in some areas — looking at services that can be cut with the least amount of negative impact on citizens that we serve. [ ]
Rep. Dale Folwell, Republican Joint Caucus Leader (R-Forsyth, District 74)
1. I’ve been to every single board meeting there’s been. I don’t know what the Associated Press says, but it’s around $325 million. [ ]
2. I spend everyday on this and, uh, I’m trying to give you an answer that will speak for itself…. [The mess is] very predictable.… The state health plan has structural problem whereby young healthy people are discouraged and financially punished from coming on the plan until one or two things happen. And those one or two things are they get older or sicker. That creates a system of adverse selection, which drives up the premiums of our teachers and state employees, which results in more people staying off the plan until they get older and sicker. It’s another example of catastrophic mismanagement in Raleigh because we continue to finance our obligation to retired state employees on the backs of the family’s premiums. The best way to describe that is — this is an over-simplification — when I pay a premium every month, as I do, to the State Health Plan, it goes toward paying the estimated medical expenses of my family, but much of that premium is going to finance the obligations to retired state employees who we have never put anything aside for it. There’s nothing being set aside for this state’s obligation to me. [ ]
Rep. Bill McGhee, Minority Whip (R-Forsyth, District 75)
1. That’s been $300 million, but that may or may not the amount we need. [ ]
2. The user may be asked to pay more and the state will certainly be asked to put more into the fund. [ ]
1. $300 million
2. Beg, borrow or steal (or cut benefits).