North Carolina wants US to recover millions in overpayments to hospitals

Leo Vartorella - Print  | 

North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell called for the U.S. Justice Department to push  all hospitals in his state to be transparent in their pricing and take action against  the ones overpaid by the state's health plan.

The request comes after Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. and North Carolina justice departments. The lawsuit challenged the system's contracts with many major insurers, alleging they included antitrust provisions.

Earlier this year, the State Health Plan submitted a public records request to Chapel HIll, N.C.-based UNC Health Care for a copy of its contract and fee schedule with Blue Cross NC, the third-party administrator for the plan. The system provided redacted information with no prices.

"For decades, the largest public hospital system in North Carolina has been engaging in this and other anti-competitive activities," said Mr. Folwell. “In the spirit of this settlement, I'm calling on all North Carolina hospitals to be transparent and to publish their pricing so consumers can make informed decisions regarding healthcare. I'm also calling for the United States Department of Justice and the North Carolina Department of Justice, on behalf of the State Health Plan, to recover the potentially hundreds of millions overcharged to consumers by hospital management from this illegal activity."

Mr. Folwell said that unless action is taken to increase price transparency, the effect of healthcare costs on the state's budget will affect other areas of government.

“In North Carolina, we already spend $3.4 billion a year in taxpayers' money for state employees and retiree health care. Additionally, we owe $30 billion for long-term health care costs, and we don't even know what we're supposed to pay for medical services," said Mr. Folwell. “If something isn't done now, then other core functions of government like education, public safety and roads will be financially impacted."

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