Under the Dome

McCrory signs Medicaid privatization bill

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a major overhaul of the state’s Medicaid system into law Wednesday.

The state will now contract with three companies that will offer statewide health insurance plans for Medicaid recipients. The state will also have up to 10 contracts with “provider-led entities” – networks of doctors and hospitals that will offer regional plans.

The state will stop paying for each Medicaid patient’s medical procedure and doctor visit. Instead, the providers will receive up-front, per-patient payments and handle any cost overruns.

“The new system will focus on keeping people healthier and delivering care where it makes the most sense to the patients,” McCrory said before signing the bill and giving 12 ceremonial pens to the legislators who worked on it. “This is going to be much more consistent quality care and much more consistent budgeting.”

The governor said the new system will provide the lowest possible costs while giving Medicaid patients a choice of providers. “This reform brings innovation to our healthcare system and builds upon what has already proven to work in North Carolina,” he said. “It infuses competition into the process and empowers individual patients to get the care that best suits them.”

The bill’s original sponsor, House senior budget writer Nelson Dollar, didn’t attend the signing ceremony. He opposed the overhaul plan after a compromise with the Senate, and he argued that Medicaid costs weren’t out of control and that private healthcare entities “have failed repeatedly” in the state.

One Democrat, Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham, joined McCrory at the ceremony. He was one of only three Democratic legislators who voted for the bill.