Raleigh, N.C. — A proposal to create more "wellness incentives" in the State Health Plan would give the state treasurer too much power, state workers told the House Insurance Committee Tuesday.
The committee approved a measure on a voice vote to make technical changes to the health insurance program that covers some 700,000 state workers, teachers and retirees.
House Bill 232 gives the treasurer the power to "adopt, implement, and administer population health management programs, including case and disease management programs and wellness programs and incentives." Such programs offer workers discounts for quitting smoking, exercising more or doing ministerial things such as designating a primary care doctor.
"The healthier our state employees are, the less they will cost this program," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash.
Ardis Watkins, a lobbyists for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, argued that the bill would hand State Treasurer Janet Cowell too much power to set rates.
It has been only two years since lawmakers gave up the power to manage the plan to an independent board in the Treasurer's Office. Watkins argued that the new bill would strip some of that power and lead to higher premiums for state employees.
"I still don't feel comfortable our members ... and other state employees won't be hurt," she said.
But Rep. Jerry Dockham, D-Davidson, said the bill only gave the treasurer the power to offer incentives, not set premiums as the board does.
"We're not stripping anyone of anything," he said.
Dockham and others, including Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, and Rick Glazier, R-Cumberland, said the bill was a necessary step in controlling costs.