Republican leaders at the state legislature say they have reached a compromise with Gov. Bev Perdue on sweeping changes to save the State Health Plan.
According to a media release from Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, the agreement will give State Health Plan administrators the option to use available cash balance reserves in the upcoming fiscal year to offer a free coverage option to active state employees and teachers – at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The cash reserves are higher than previously expected based on recent forecasts, the release said.
“For years, the State Health Plan has been on the verge of financial collapse," Berger, a Republican from Eden, said, according to the release. "Today’s compromise will ensure its future stability and manage health care costs for our teachers and state employees without raising taxes."
The plan, run under a contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina, covers 633,000 state employees, retirees and dependents.
Budget projections predicted a funding shortfall for the health plan of about $515 million. The governor vetoed the original bill approved by the Republican Controlled legislature, which would have for the first time required state employees to pay a monthly premium for basic coverage.
The Senate Insurance Committee passed the compromise bill Wednesday morning. The full chamber is scheduled to vote on the bill at its 3 p.m. session today.
UPDATE: Perdue's spokeswoman, Chrissy Pearson, said Perdue wanted assurances that a no-premium option would be available because teachers and state employees have not received raises in years.
"Some of those people can't afford more," Pearson said.
Pearson said Perdue met with Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis last last week to come up with a compromise.
She asked for a letter from health plan administrator Jack Walker assuring that there would be enough in the plan's cash reserves to provide an employees-only, no-premium plan next year.
Walker's letter to Perdue, Tillis, and Berger is dated today.
Pearson said Perdue is prepared to sign both the supplemental bill the Senate is set to vote on today, and the last health plan bill they passed.