Under a new proposal by North Carolina’s state treasurer, health care for state employees could be reimbursed based on a percentage of Medicare rates.

North Carolina’s State Health Plan insures more than 700,000 state employees and public school teachers, and under the proposal, doctors, hospitals, and other providers that participate in the plan would agree to accept an as-yet unstated percentage of Medicare rates.  The state treasurer estimates that this approach would save the State Health Plan $300 million a year and save plan participants another $60 million a year.

According to North Carolina Health News, the state’s hospitals are skeptical about the proposed approach.

“This is, you know, an approach to just reduce rates, versus an approach to improve people’s health, improve the health of communities,” said Steve Lawler, president of the North Carolina Healthcare Association, which represents hospitals. “So it’s a simplistic approach to a complex problem that doesn’t really get at the heart of the issue.”

The state treasurer responded by noting that

…while his proposal cuts payments to some providers, others — including mental health providers, independent primary care physicians and critical access hospitals — would see increases.

The association of physicians in the state also has expressed opposition to the proposal.

The publication Healthcare Dive quotes a consultant on alternative means of delivering primary care observing that

As state government healthcare costs continue to grow unsustainably, and simply shifting costs to teachers and other employees reaches its limit (see WV teacher’s strike), expect to see a lot more of this.

Learn more about the North Carolina proposal from this Healthcare Dive story, a news release from the North Carolina state treasurer, and a news story published in North Carolina Health News.