State News

Former head of state employee health plan fights back

Posted July 11, 2008
Updated July 12, 2008

— The former executive administrator of the state employee health insurance plan said he was wrongfully fired from his job when a multimillion dollar surplus became a deficit.

George Stokes was fired July 1 after three years at the helm of the North Carolina State Health Plan. A spokeswoman for state Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said he fired Stokes after being told to do so by lawmakers who oversee the plan.

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman said last week Stokes was removed, because the General Assembly expected to receive a $50 million surplus from the plan this year. Instead, plan officials told him there would be a $65 million shortfall.

In a statement released Friday, Stokes said he was “dealt with in a high-handed, unprofessional, unfair and inappropriate fashion.”

Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland and Bladen, and Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson – the majority leaders of their respective chambers – wrote a letter to Long, requesting that he fire Stokes and hire Dr. Jack Waller.

Stokes said the reason officials gave for requesting his removal was “invalid, inaccurate and misleading.”

He said the stated reason he was fired was, “Certain fiscal information has been revealed to us which indicates that we have been operating under projections which cannot be met. This has placed us in a very difficult position and one that needs immediate attention.”

Stokes said he does not know the information being referred to in the statement, but said any projections made were “based upon solid information and careful analysis and shared with Senator (Tony) Rand and Representative Holliman in an agreed upon time table.”

Stokes said the State Health Plan was in “no jeopardy whatsoever.”

Stokes has hired Attorney James E. Ferguson, II, of Charlotte, to represent him and said he has reached out to Long to rectify things “without going through the costly and cumbersome process of litigation.”

Stokes has not said if he wants his job back.

The State Health Plan provides medical insurance for almost 650,000 state workers, public school teachers and retirees. It also administers N.C. Health Choice, which provides coverage for 122,000 uninsured children statewide.


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  • The Fox Jul 11, 2008

    In all fairness to Mr. Stokes, the State Health Plan did improve under his leadership.

  • yourgirrll Jul 11, 2008

    I think the employees, retirees, and dependents on the State Health Plan need to pay more attention to what is going on. This is one of the only insurace plan where members can basically control their benefits. The SHP is made up by the state govement. The members actually put the people in office that determines what of their medical will be covered. If the good employees of the state where more knowledgable of their health care alot of things would be different. For instance 9 out of 10 people covered by the SHP think they have BCBSNC insurance. NOT, they are covered by the State Health Plan. The SHP is it's on insurance company being administered by BCBSNC who has the contract to get paid by the state for administering the benefits and claims. As to what happened to the money, just like the rest of the govenmemnt, no one knows what the other is doing. So, sorry George somebody got to wear it.

  • rand321 Jul 11, 2008

    A 100MM swing is a big one and as a taxpayer, I think it would be reasonable for us to expect those administering and running the plan, would be on top of the fiscal needs. A 100 million dollars is a lot of money that the taxpayers need to pay from our taxes.