February 8, 2023

Health Mettler Institute

Healthy LifeStyle & Education

NC Treasurer needs to reconsider State Health Plan switch

OPINION AND COMMENTARY

Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

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State Treasurer Dale Folwell announced last week that the N.C. State Health Plan Board of Trustees voted unanimously to drop the longtime administrator of the plan, Blue Cross NC, and turn the job over to Aetna Insurance.

Observer file photo

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State Health Plan

The State Health Plan’s board of trustees voted in a closed-session meeting to award Aetna a contract that has been in the hands of Blue Cross NC for more than 40 years. But the details are still shrouded in secrecy. The vacuum of information has been filled with questions from state employees and few clear answers from those in charge of the health plan.

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State health plan

It is ironic that State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who continually espouses transparency, should push through the change in the State Health Plan shrouded in complete secrecy. Since the plan affects about a half million state workers, any changes should have been openly discussed.

The State Health Plan is one of few perks to attract workers for the state. Many agencies now are below authorized staffing levels. Does it make any sense to possibly weaken one of the few perks at such a time?

If Folwell aspires to become governor, as he has indicated, he may need to find a way to back out of this perhaps ill-advised change. If he can’t find a way, perhaps the governor or legislature can.

Alan L. Tharp, Raleigh

NC taxes

North Carolina Sen. Paul Newton wishes to end corporate taxes and income taxes. He believes people should be able to keep their hard-earned money. Well, I’d like him to know that we’d also like clean drinking water, fair salaries for teachers, and police and fire personnel. We citizens know this requires us to contribute to our state’s tax base. If there’s accountability and fairness we trust our government will use our taxes wisely. We were just named America’s Top States for Business — the No. 1 place for companies to do business. I’m sure these corporations will pay taxes so future employees are well educated in our state and their executives benefit, along with all citizens.

Mary Morch, Raleigh

Plagiarism

Regarding “Chapel Hill schools superintendent’s dissertation draws plagiarism concerns,” (Jan. 12):

My children experience excellence from faculty and staff at every level in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, and leadership has much to do with that. Superintendent Nyah Hamlett led the district through the darkest days of the pandemic with grace and poise, reaching across enforced isolation to connect with and support taxed families.

If issues of plagiarism are as widespread as this article indicates, then the problem exceeds one individual or even one institution. One wonders, then, why Hamlett is being singled out. Unfortunately, the prompt for this inquiry is “anonymous,” and thus their motivations are protected from scrutiny.

Kate Noonan, Chapel Hill

IRS agents

One of the first acts of the new Republican majority in the U.S. House was to vote against funds to update and improve the IRS. Outdated IRS systems and systematic cuts to personnel over the years delay refunds to all taxpayers and allow roughly 70% of millionaires to escape audits. Small businesses and ordinary wage earners cannot exploit tax loopholes the way those with high-priced tax attorneys can.

A better use of Republicans’ long-sought powers would be to investigate why tax codes favor the very wealthy at the expense of our economy and ordinary taxpayers. Instead of demonstrating a need for Republicans to regain the Senate and White House in 2024, their actions seem determined to demonstrate the urgency of keeping Democrats in power.

Margaret Magnani, Cary

Debt remedy

The federal debt limit is in focus now because of conservative Republican muscle-flexing in their successful fight to name Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Admittedly, the debt is huge. But the conservatives’ remedy would be to cut spending on social programs that benefit the vast majority of Americans. That’s not the only way to reduce deficit spending. Alternatively, we can increase revenue by raising taxes, which are way below their highest levels, especially for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. This fact merits major attention in the months to come before the next debt-limit debate occurs.

Richard Cramer, Chapel Hill

NC’s power grid

The writer is executive director of Conservatives for Clean Energy NC.

North Carolina’s disastrous Christmas Eve power blackouts, which left half a million people in the dark amid frigid temperatures, prove the need for a fresh look at how we deliver electricity across the state. Our state’s century-old system of monopoly energy production and distribution is a big part of the problem. Our archaic system is too centralized, too vulnerable and too prone to cascading failures and dangerous service interruptions.

More competition and better consumer choices would make our energy network stronger, more resilient and more reliable. In the wake of the recent blackouts, the newly convened N.C. legislature should authorize an energy market reform study. Voters know that the blackouts are an alarming harbinger of more suffering ahead without more energy competition and choices.

Carson Butts, Raleigh

Mystery creature

Regarding “Video of dark, slithering creature in Bogue Sound stirs debate” (Jan. 8):

I think I know what this is. I grew up in Texas right on the Sabine River which opens up into the Gulf of Mexico. My dad always said that if an alligator swims too far in the ocean for too long it loses its bark and looks like a fish. So in my opinion this is just a lost gator. Poor thing. He’s going to die soon from the salt. He probably ran out of food and just kept following food out to the ocean.

Richard Guidry, Jacksonville

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