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Politics

NC Lawmakers Pass Medicaid Overhaul

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North Carolina lawmakers Tuesday passed fundamental changes to the state's Medicaid program. If Governor Pat McCrory signs it, it would change who's in charge of keeping patients healthy and how the state pays for it.

Republican Rep. Bert Jones says the overhaul is a huge win for taxpayers.

“For years and years and years, Medicaid has been considered the budget Pac-Man that eats up all the dollars,” he says.

It's one of the state's most expensive programs, and it struggled with massive cost overruns from 2010 through 2013. The state health department has been much better at budgeting the past two years, but that's not enough for Jones.

“We would like to see some budget certainty, and this bill does provide for that,” he says.

It does that by changing the payment model. Under the current system, doctors get paid after they provide services. In the new system, the state will give insurance companies and groups of doctors and hospitals a set budget up front based on who they serve.

If they go over, they're on the hook.  If they save money, they turn a profit, up to a limit.

Democratic Rep. Graig Meyer spoke against it.     

“If we put this plan into action, your taxpayer dollars are going to turn into profits for insurance companies based on their ability to limit and cut services to poor people,” he says.

Both the House and Senate passed the plan. If Governor Pat McCrory signs it, it'll take three to four years to get federal approval and implement the changes.