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Carolina Journal Radio No. 812: Poll suggests N.C. will remain presidential battleground state

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai
The Truth Network Radio
December 10, 2018 8:00 am

Carolina Journal Radio No. 812: Poll suggests N.C. will remain presidential battleground state

Carolina Journal Radio / Donna Martinez and Mitch Kokai

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December 10, 2018 8:00 am

A recent Civitas poll suggests North Carolina will continue to play a role as an election battleground state in 2020. Rick Henderson, Carolina Journal editor-in-chief, dissects the poll’s key findings. Henderson assesses the implications for Tar Heel politics during the next two years. Partisans on both the left and right tend to agree that our political debates have become far too polarized. In a recent column for National Review Online, John Locke Foundation Chairman John Hood offered ideas for addressing the crippling level of polarization. Hood highlighted the work of North Carolina’s bipartisan Leadership Forum. Today’s economy requires an increased role for community college training. That’s the assessment from N.C. Community College System President Peter Hans. He recently explained to University of North Carolina leaders how state community colleges are responding to the state’s changing economic needs. A special legislative study group is looking into the controversial $57.8 million fund Gov. Roy Cooper set up in connection with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Lawmakers want to ensure that Cooper’s office did not coerce pipeline operators into paying the money in return for a necessary state environmental permit. You’ll hear highlights from the group’s first meeting. State Treasurer Dale Folwell is taking steps to increase transparency related to health care costs charged to the State Health Plan for government workers and retirees. Folwell’s efforts are facing some opposition within the General Assembly. Dan Way, Carolina Journal associate editor, reports on the latest developments. Way also notes Folwell’s concerns about some local governments’ financial stability.

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From chair to current attack from the largest city to the smallest and from the statehouse into the schoolhouse Carolina Journal radio your weekly news magazine discussing North Carolina's most public policy events and issues welcome to Carolina Journal radio why Muskoka during the next hour, Donna Martino said, I will explore some major issues affecting our state. This week's edition of Carolina Journal radio was brought to you by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina working every day to transform the health system for North Carolinians. More information available at today. We.com. Partisans on both the left and right complained about increased political polarization, the chairman of the John Locke foundation offer some ideas for addressing the problem.

Today's economy requires an increased role for North Carolina's community colleges. That's according to the president of the community college system.

You'll hear his plans. The new committee has started its investigation of a controversial $58 million fund tied to the Atlantic coast pipeline your highlights from its work state treasurer Dale Falwell wants more transparency in healthcare costs charged of the state will analyze his work on that front.

Those topics are just ahead.

First, Donna Martinez joins us and she has the Carolina Journal headline with the 2018 midterm election in the rearview mirror, analysts and politicians are already gearing up for 2020 polling conducted by Harper polling for the scimitar's Institute is showing that North Carolina once again likely to be a battleground state in the presidential election.

Rick Henderson is editor-in-chief of Carolina Journal.

He's been looking into the new polling numbers and joins us now. Rick welcome back to the shell. Thank you. We know in 2016 Donald Trump one North Carolina based on this new poll for the scimitar's Institute, would he win North Carolina. It would actually not be close to close to call.

The 2016 over exactly because he won North Carolina by 33 of half percentage points roughly 2016. But according to this poll. He's slightly underwater is 35% would vote for Trump 36% said they would vote for any Democrat in the 21% said they might vote for the Democrat finial who would use their banks and decided, so it just shows once again that there was the right candidate or with certain levels of persuasion Democrats could take North Carolina but it's a real quote close once again that is fascinating that that large of percentage of people say well depends on who the Democrat is showing that there is no big allegiance to Mr. Trump at this point).

Part of this is coming is not at all unusual for you to have these poll showing generic Democrat or generic Republican getting X percentage of the vote until you actually put a name behind that label. It was really by that I was all like that person so it's really like this person, more so that's not at all unusual to see if you don't name a candidate if if they were the poll had put it under the any Democrat candidate listed some names put in some names like Sen. Kemal Harris restore VP Joe Biden or somebody like that put a list of names error or sectors of Hillary Clinton to see then what the support would be your head-to-head races against Pres. Trump, then the numbers might be just completely different and no doubt to future polling will probably to that you guys that I think part of it to his seven toss wisely using his polling resources efficiently doing this more generic basis of about first of all, until we actually see some people really stepping for a serious attempt so battleground once again North Carolina for 2020.

Let's talk a little bit about the two sides have the two major parties here do we know or have a sense at this point Rick as to whether Pres. Trump will get a primary challenge from the Republicans as possible of former Ohio Gov. John Kasich has talked about it. He has mentioned that he states would consider such a thing. I know if you go through it or not. There also should talk with him, possibly running independent candidacy as well because it and then give us a matter of that's the sort of decision he would probably need to make fairly quickly because of ballot access issues in fundraising. Although source things, but we haven't really heard about other Republicans that I know of outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona keeps being floated although Flake himself doesn't say that Flake is said there needs to be a challenger but doesn't say I'm going to challenge her and I think part of that may be the background that there are's. There are reports that Sen. Flake may actually stay in the Senate that John Kyle who was sort of been the placeholder in that Senate seat second Arizona Senate seats. John McCain died may not want to serve out the full term. He certainly has a plan to run for reelection and is always possible that that he may step down and Gov. Doug Busey would appoint Sen. Flake to fill out that term and then run again and even though the president himself talks as if he is running for reelection even at some of his rallies for other candidates during the midterms. He was talking about a slogan that he might use for 2020 but we don't know that it's a lock that he will. That's right we don't know that yet. There are many things to to play in this yet that we do have continuing investigations, the president, we have for me has always possible that some of the president's advisors may say it looks like in terms tenant tended not go well for any piety, and maybe you should enjoy your retirement. You go if you especially if you go out on a high note. Something like that could designate VP penances his as is his favored successor.

That's always possible, but we don't, we won't know yet until things unfold. A lot of Democrats have been giving indications that they want to challenge Donald Trump or whoever is the Republican nominee in 2020. You mentioned a couple of them. VP Joe Biden. Now some stirrings, perhaps from Sen. Hillary Clinton that she might try another run any younger people like a new generation of some of these these younger more leftist Democrats that have just been elected to the Congress. Sen. Carl Harris is one whose name is, quite a bit.

Although she had a bit of controversy during her tenure is so Secretary of State California so she she would not come in with a totally clean slate. There is talk of Sen. Cory Booker from New Jersey a lot right now just of rumblings more than anything else. Sen. Sherrod Brown from Ohio who is very, very protectionist, and so would I don't know if that's exactly the sort of wood provides with contrast to the president's policies. The Democrats are looking for. Also, is not that young either his mother for a long time so it it's it's hard to tell how this all shakes out.

The thing is really funny about it is that is that VP Biden may actually encapsulate a lot of the sort of factors that Democrats would find appealing to run against a Pres. Trump for his reelection campaign. Sen. Biden also is in his mid-70s and so there would that there is no fresh generation to their doesn't really be anyone in that the younger generation of Democrats who embodies that yet, so we'll have to see how that plays out right now, considering it's what less than two years away year halfway from the nominee conventions Whitworth juicing us from right now that's can be fascinating going forward.

You know in 2020, of course, will also be electing a governor of North Carolina in this civic task poll. They asked about down people's feelings about the current Democratic governor Roy Cooper what they find. He's doing quite well.

His favorable ratings. 55% unfavorable 25% and so people generally speaking, or are giving him high marks is not unusual and withdrawing economies doing really well in whoever's the chief executive is great for them with other folks, including the business of creating a job, so that's not at all unusual factor at this point we have any idea the any reason to think he would not seek a second term. None again.

Now, as with Pres. Trump.

There are investigations going on some dealings of the Atlantico's pipeline is one that is going forward and you never can tell, although it would be extremely unlikely that he would choose not to run for second term unless something really big comes up some sort of ethical problem that would make him unelectable when on the Republican side who wants to be governor. Will we know the Lieut. Gov. Dan forced us very much and he has not formally announced anything yet, but he has. He is certainly run into statewide campaigns very effectively. He's built a big network and I think he would be a consensus Republican candidates actually choose to run and he of course is the current Lieut. Gov., and speaking of that job.

We have already heard from one Democrat who says he wants to be the next Lieut. Gov. Wright Cal Cunningham for State Sen., who has been through the perennial man in the wings waiting to run for an open seat is that he's available to do it but again nobody else yet has said step forward and I will probably have some candidates for illicit so it's already started stuff you thought hey I just voted what you did 20/20 around the corner. We been talking with Rick Henderson who is editor-in-chief of Carolina journal and of course Carolina journal covering all of these key elected officials and key upcoming races@carolinajournal.com is much more Carolina journal radio to come in just a moment.

This week's edition of Carolina journal radio is brought to you by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina working every day to transform the health system from North Carolinians. More information available at today. We.com voters have spoken in North Carolina. How can you make sense of what they said about the legislature Congress, the courts, the Constitution, Carolina journal has you covered in print each month.

Online every day. Carolina journal is your source for up-to-the-minute information about North Carolina state government policies and their impact on you Carolina journal offers in-depth analysis of the election's aftermath, then looks ahead to 2019. How will elections affect your family, your wallet, your schools, your business find out in the free Carolina journal newspaper online@carolinajournal.com Carolina journal your number one source for government news that affects you visit Carolina journal.com today. Welcome back Carolina journal radio I Mitch coca in this current moment of stark polarization, swaggering incivility and self-congratulatory fury to the left and the right agree on anything. Yes, as it happens, they agree that our politics has become a seemingly endless shoving match in the backseat of America's careening station wagon.

Our next guest use those words to start a recent column for national review online John Hood is chairman of the John Locke foundation. Welcome back to the program you so the left and right agree we've got a big problem with this polarization and know all of the rancor in our politics. What we do with that information. What's important piece of agreement and it's not obvious necessarily because some people argue and I have argued in the past we ought not to romanticize America's political history as if we have disagreements today and they go to the heart of the matter in their ball.

This partisan polarization and that's different from the way it used to be back in the good old days. I don't think we want to fall for that trap because we know that presidential election of 1800 was vicious that the era of good feelings that happen in the early 19th century was not an era of good feelings. There was a lot of hatred, a VP killed a revival is so weak we don't want to exaggerate. On the other hand, at least in the recent past, to the extent that we have polling that goes back several decades is simply the case that both Democratic leaning voters and Republican leaning voters appear to be dissatisfied with the political conversation in a way that met that they were not previously.

So when Bill Clinton was president of the Democrat in the 90s, Republicans were upset often about what he did, until the Congress went Republican and the Democrats got mad and so forth. And severally, George W. Bush during his eight years in the presidency. Democrats went unhinged so it's not the case that I'm arguing there something surprising about the party out of power. Being angry, being mobilized against whoever the White House party is what I'm getting at is that both parties today are upset by side in the polling data that in Gallup polling and in some other polling Americans have declining since that their government is working and obviously Democrats are more likely to say that right now because they are not the party in the White House are not the party in charge of Capitol Hill, but not the party in charge of most states, including North Carolina lease not fully so that's not surprising. Surprising is that Republicans are at best split on the issue of is government working really well's American government succeeding. That was not true.

As recently as the George W. Bush years when the Democrats would say were not sure governments working in the Republicans honor 80% of Republicans are so sure the government's working fine. That's not where we are today. This is not the same thing as saying Republicans are not approval, not approving of Donald Trump as president. Most of the vast dry Republicans approve of the Republican Pres. that is been true for Democrats from the Democratic presidents. But when you ask them not so much about personalities but about was the political situation.

Like, what's a political talk like do you would you get along with people who disagree with you politically, the numbers they are pretty damning and they do in fact cross party divides so if we have an agreement there something wrong immediate question is what is it we all agree the car is sputtering and we put it in drive and it only sometimes goes forward.

So, become a nurse it to the Shop we all agree that we need to be the mechanic shop but the next problem comes when you lift the hood and one mechanics as well. You know your problems run over there. The other mechanics is known I was way over here. That's where our disagreements still exist, Republicans say, well of course there's a political polarization problem. There's a there's a lack of civility is because of those Democrats the people in the minority in Congress of left-wing media campuses are all left when they're turning out generations after generations of crazy people in their arguing back and forth in a course, the Republicans were the Democrats have their own version of those causes that involve the Coke brothers or Fox News or Donald Trump himself, though, that one doesn't quite work since this concern predates Donald Trump.

You may be part of the story, but he isn't the can't be the causal factor of the story that people are writing about.

In 2014 when Donald Trump was bottom up at that time you want still been a Democrat. I'm not sure so what we do about this is kind of the big challenge match, and I think that one version of the what we do about this is part of the problem. So, in a liberal or conservative will write a story about this or make a speech about this when you get to the end.

What they really want is the other side to capitulate. You know, we would stop having all these polarized uncivil arguments. If you would just convert to my side when I would make things easier. Absolutely. However, I don't think that's a realistic prospect.

So if that's not the answer were not to convert each other, necessarily, then how do we get along better in my view, this involves developing a real understanding not only of our own position, but of the position of people who are opposed to us and really imagine that you could believe that if you had a different set of facts than the one that you believe to be true. If you had thought about it in a different way via different preferences. Could you come to this radically different conclusion than the one you hold if you cannot even imagine why you would ever think that then you have a difficulty really having a conversation but if you could imagine that it's sort of a leap of imagination. If you can do that you have a more productive conversation at the North Carolina leadership forum, which is the project that I helped to start. It is based at Duke University, but it's a statewide program that brings leaders together. That's exactly what we try to do were not trying to convert everybody to my point of view, though I would be wise since I'm always right or trying to do instead is to get people to imagine, to learn from each other.

Imagine what would really like to have a different point of view and we think that's can we improve the debate as I can in the debate debate scrape the baked part of what a free society ought to be doing but we need to learn to argue with each other not bicker with each other and were making the distinction between the two. One of the points that you make after discussing the North Carolina leadership forum is that leadership matters, it certainly does. We could we could throw up our hands.

They will of everybody's polarized everybody's mad at each other.

There's nothing we can do about it because not really the politicians who are doing it. It's the people and the politicians are simply catering to what the people want to just try to get reelected. So they might otherwise act in a grown-up fashion but it's really we, the people who are the problem. There might be some truth to that, but it doesn't really lead anywhere.

And so we believe that a knock on the contrary, theory has at least as much power lease as much empirical data to support, which is people follow their leaders.

If leaders behave in an elevated way if they conduct themselves like grown-ups then people tend to follow that and be at least a bit grown-up if people if leaders act like adolescents, then it will dumb down her age down the rest of all the rest of us as we follow our leader just like everybody else does. So we're focusing at the North Carolina leadership for on improving the conduct of political disagreement among leaders because we think that if this is done very publicly done. It's very obvious that people are conducting themselves in a more healthy manner. We think that the voters everybody else will tend to follow the lead in the brief time we have left. Do you see any signs that this is having any benefit so far we've only been a couple years into this process at the North Carolina leadership forum.

We think there is some sign of progress, the participants themselves say that the that's changing the way they behave and were starting to see people you know people from the left people from the right disagree on a few things for many things come together on something else as I hate even though we disagree about lots of things here, something we agree on a let's talk about that a little bit were seeing those kinds of phenomena of phenomena like in criminal justice reform weather has been a sort of a left right convergence on some matters and again I'm not arguing that we need a moderate everything. I'm a conservative upper got start opinions but when there are opportunities to compare notes and actually see some commonalities. I think we ought to do it. That is the voice of John Hood.

He is chairman of the John foundation. Thanks much for joining us. You're welcome, will have on Carolina journal radio in just a moment.

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Support the John Locke foundation voters have spoken in North Carolina. How can you make sense of what they said about the legislature Congress, the courts, the Constitution, Carolina journal has you covered in print each month.

Online every day.

Carolina journal is your source for up-to-the-minute information about North Carolina state government policies and their impact on you Carolina journal offers in-depth analysis of the election's aftermath, then looks ahead to 2019. How will elections affect your family, your wallet, your schools, your business find out in the free Carolina journal newspaper online@carolinajournal.com Carolina journal your number one source for government news that affects you visit Carolina journal.com today. If you have freedom we got great news to share with you now.

You can find the latest news, views, and research from conservative groups across North Carolina all in one place North Carolina conservative.com it's one stop shopping for North Carolina's freedom movement and North Carolina conservative.com. You'll find links to John Locke foundation blogs on the days news Carolina journal.com reporting and quick takes Carolina journal radio interviews TV interviews featuring CJ reporters and Locke foundation analysts, opinion pieces and reports on higher education from the James G. Martin Center for academic renewal, commentary and polling data from the scimitar's Institute and news and views from the North Carolina family policy Council.

That's right, all in one place North Carolina conservative.com that's North Carolina spelled out conservative.com North Carolina conservative.com. Try it today. This week's edition of Carolina radio was brought to you by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina working every day to transform the health system from North Carolinians.

More information available at today.

We.com will go back Carolina journal radio why Michiko got a changing economy could mean a more important role for North Carolina's community colleges. That's the thinking of college system president Peter Hans. He recently explained to University of North Carolina leaders, community colleges are more central to this day's future when you think about every trend.

Everything that is currently in the economy and technology and society suggests us that in future education will be shorter in duration and will regularly occur and that is in many ways the sweet spot for community colleges. I always mention the predictions about artificial intelligence to same. Half of those traditions come true.

The transformations that will occur, particularly in our workforce and again the relevance is the centrality of community colleges in responding to those challenges are visions in speeches as symbols on the line so the simplification of our processes whether they be financial, a missions registration, you name it. To make it easier for students to access the system for us to be flexible for them to succeed. Alignment with our partners in the universe. Carolina colleges and universities is schools and for us to be aligned externally and internally to erase the silos cross divisional budgetary and instructional lines so that we can successfully align with you and others acceleration. We know we gotta reduce moral credentials for North Carolina humans beyond high school for an increasingly diverse population and working together we can do so, but it will be ambitious. It is incredibly important and again Kedar mesh simplify will align with you and accelerate a number of educational Locke they need and deserve.

That's Peter Hans, president of the North Carolina community college system delivered these remarks recently to University of North Carolina leaders will return with more Carolina journal rate commitment to truth and transparency in government. That is the mission of Carolina journal and we are proud to deliver and now proud to tell you the North Carolina press Association has honored to members of our team with awards reporting and writing, that's right, we really do deliver award-winning journalism we shine the light on government spending, reveal the truth about boondoggles and dig deep into programs paid for with your tax money. We keep you in the know in a way other media outlets don't in our reach and influence are growing all of our outlets. We reach more than 1 million N. Carolinians each month so make sure you're one of them are monthly print edition arrives in your mailbox every month. Our online daily news site Carolina journal.com has fresh stories, opinion pieces, and more. The award-winning Carolina journal team I reporters make government accountable to you. Call 1866 JL FINF0 for your free subscription, welcome back. Carolina journal radio why Michiko got North Carolina legislators continue to ask questions about a controversial $58 million fund connected to the Atlantic Coast pipeline Gov. Roy Cooper announced the fund at the same time, his administration announced that the pipeline it secured Orton state permit the timing didn't sit well with lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown began asking questions about the relationship between the governor's $58 million discretionary fund and ACP water quality permit almost as soon as we heard about them. Something just didn't seem right to us about the whole arrangement. Questions started last winter. Lawmakers didn't get the answers they were seeking. We pick this issue up again on August 29. The joint go box meeting and at that meeting Miss Jones of the Gov.'s office had no secrets.

So we tried again on September 7. We sent yet another letter to Gov.'s office asking about 20 detailed questions and also asking.

For some documentation.

All of these letters that I'm speaking of, or posted to the subcommittee's website. We did make a September 7 letter public we didn't release it to the press. We want out to try to embarrass anybody we just wanted answers.

Then we originally scheduled this first meeting of our subcommittee for October 4. The DQ six Terry Whiting called and asked for delay of the meeting due to the hurricane. We thought that was a very readable request and we delayed that meeting until today.

In our response letter to Sec. Ragan. We even said that we hope the delay provide the administration with the time to answer our questions and provide us with the documents we were looking for. None of this was public.

We did make a big show before the elections because we truly just want honest answers to our questions. These questions are serious. I get to the very heart of honest government but the governor still steadfastly refuses to answer our questions will provide us with this with the documents we request. Why you have to ask him.

We don't need to be here today. The governor could have close this out months ago, simply by answering our questions, but yet he refuses to do so around suggests lawmakers are tired of waiting for answers. We have been more than patient in waiting for the governor provide us with information that we need. We have been over backwards to accommodate the governor's timeline. We have delayed hearings and pushback deadlines. The governor has stonewalled us for almost 9 months now, even though he has a legal obligation to answer our questions and provide us with the documents that we request were given the governor every opportunity to respond, both privately and publicly about this matter up to this point, but now I'm not interested in any more soundbites from the governor's office.

What I'm interested in is the truth.

The truth as to whether to govern North Carolina Hill department for one of the state's largest employers hostage apartment for which Duke energy met all the regulatory and legal requirements to obtain a permit that had already been recommended for approval by the technical staff at DQ I want to know whether the governor Hill this permit hostage until Duke agreed to fund 58 million into a slush fund under his direct control and possibly even a lot more than that.

We cannot operate North Carolina like that and expect to continue our economic growth.

That kind of government should be unacceptable to every member of the subcommittee, but I promise you one thing. This subcommittee will get to the bottom of this we will uncover the truth and when we do will hold those people accountable. That's Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown is one of the state lawmakers investigating a controversial $58 million fund it's tied to the Atlantic Coast pipeline. Another is state representative Dean Arp governor Cooper repeatedly called the $57.8 million memorandum of understanding payments voluntary yet required 50% of the payment upfront from the ACP governor Cooper attempted to circumvent the state budget process and switched to a nonbinding agreement in order to do so. Proposed unnamed third party to escrow and manage the funds to require the funds for purposes outside of the four environmental impacts such as economic development and expanding renewable energies. The executive order was never issued, and in fact, the governor could delay permitting until the executive order was issued this lease for several unanswered questions of great import to the state of North Carolina and the legislature is a policymaking body was the integrity of the state environmental permitting process breached by mixing the MOU payments with permit approval.

If the governor's action of associating MOU payments with a permit approval become the norm will have a chilling effect on business. State Sen. Paul Newton spelled out some of the questions he and his colleagues have a special legislative committee are asking.

We need to determine whether the governor coerced a permit from an applicant which had met otherwise met all legal and regulatory requirements to obtain its permit to establish discretionary fund under his control was was that was that for lack of a better phrase coerced. We don't we need to determine why the governor's office chooses not to answer our detailed questions about this matter. If there's some sort of a concerted stonewalling going on within the administration against this investigation, we need to determine the potential collateral damages collateral damage.

Actions like this could have on the credibility of a state agency.

In this case, DQ, and our continued economic growth in the state and what we as a legislature need to do to prevent this from happening again. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must assure job creators that if they meet the legal, regulatory and statutory requirements to receive a permit of any sort in our state that they will indeed receive that permit and will be able to operate in North Carolina without having to make an additional cash payment to any state official under terms and conditions that create a discretionary fund under that state officials control you been hearing from Republican state lawmakers, but they are the only ones concerned about the process. Teresa Vick of the Blue Ridge environmental Defense league approaches the pipeline issue from a different perspective. I just wanted to tell you that you are not the only ones who had difficulty getting information from governor Cooper. We had a public records request, and since February 9, 2018 has not been responded to appropriately. Also, however, that being said, I tend to think well. Our concerns are the opposite of yours is that this permit had quite enough reasons for it to be denied and our concern is that the. The money was used to sweeten the pot and I work directly with affected community people and landowners that are in the path of the Atlantic Coast pipeline and the public deserves the answers, whatever the answer is the public does deserve the answer so I'm glad somebody's asking the question you been listening to concerns about a multimillion dollar fund tied to the Atlantic Coast pipeline will return with North Carolina journal radio in a moment this week's edition of Carolina journal radio is brought to you by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina working every day to transform the health system from North Carolinians. More information available at today. We.com voters have spoken in North Carolina. How can you make sense of what they said about the legislature Congress, the courts, the Constitution, Carolina journal has you covered in print each month. Online every day. Carolina journal is your source for up-to-the-minute information about North Carolina state government policies and their impact on you Carolina journal offers in-depth analysis of the election's aftermath, then looks ahead to 2019. How will elections affect your family, your wallet, your schools, your business find out in the free Carolina journal newspaper online@carolinajournal.com Carolina journal your number one source for government news that affects you visit Carolina journal.com today.

Welcome back to Carolina journal radio Donna Martinez state treasurer Dale Falwell is making a push for more price transparency from North Carolina hospitals have four bills paid by the state health plan and a health plan covers state employees, their dependents and retirees as well. Within 700,000 people.

But the state treasurer is facing some pushback in his effort and way covers healthcare issues for Carolina journal as an associate editor.

He joins us now with the story and welcome back to the show, thinking, what is it that treasurer Falwell wants to know well this is been a push of his even back when he was campaigning. He recognizes the state health plan is vastly underfunded exceeds its annual state appropriations every year and he's trying to find out how much this cost and exactly what they're paying for, and there seems to be some resistance between Blue Cross Blue Shield, North Carolina, and the hustle USC healthcare system which services most of their 727,000 plan members can explain to list something you just said how is it possible for the state health plan covering so many people being integral to so many people's lives, how is it possible that it's underfunded what does it mean that it's underfunded will the cost of healthcare costs have been going up appropriations, having kept pace is only 3% funded so they are not very stable. Plan and Falwell is trying to assure that up and create more stability in the plan through some various reforms and one of them is through gaining more price transparency from hospitals putting more of the burden on the consumers to figure out what am I paying for, because obviously if you don't know what you're paying for.

You just can't get the services. This way they can shop around. Look for who has the best healthcare outcomes and at the best prices and then only save money out there probably save the state taxpayers who are helping to fund the state health plan you've just made a very reasonable argument for price transparency but yet there is pushback against his effort.

Who doesn't want this to move forward and why will the state health plan and self-insured plans of Blue Cross is the administrator. They negotiate pricing for the state health plan, the state health plan is lumped in with some other groups outside of the state so Blue Cross says that becomes proprietary information and trade secrets.

If you will, and if they disclose exactly what's being paid for and what fee schedules are that would compromise the other members in this group that there bundled with UNC hospital system says well that's not our problem. You need to talk to your administrator so it's this weird triangulation that doesn't seem to get resolved, that is very strange because were talking about state tax dollars being used correctly to pay the bills here right okay but yet you have the people who are providing the services to say were not going to actually reveal to you what the charges are. They get a bill, but it doesn't really have the breakdown that's needed and there's concerned that the national study showing there is waste fraud and abuse in the healthcare system, 15 to 30%. So without being able to see the itemized bills is difficult for the state health plan directors to know exactly what they're paying for.

Is there any involvement here for the general assembly or have we heard any feedback from legislators, one would presume that people would be on board with the general idea of the more transparency the better we would think so. The treasurer has proposed a plan is called reference-based pricing it would put the amount they reimbursed the hospitals and the doctors based on Medicare will be a certain percentage above the Medicare rates the government pays you think that's a very important part for controlling costs. However, I'm finding out today that there are some lawmakers on healthcare committees in both the House and Senate who are working on legislation to prevent the treasurer from implementing his reform plans. Why well if so call me back. I'll tell you I haven't had any length. A real head scratcher because it it it implies that something else is going on in the treasurer, it seems, is trying to just extract information since again public dollars are being used to pay these bills so he's trying to find out more information and yet there is some sort of effort to prevent that hospital lobbyists to words that are very powerful organization down there on the often twist arms among the lawmakers and they are being very aggressive on trying to prevent the treasurer from implementing his reforms, there would be he's made no bones about telling them in face-to-face meetings it under this plan, you will get less reimbursement we have to do that to save the state health plan state employees Association agrees with them. They think that there's a cost shifting going on state health plan members are helping to pump up the hospitals unfairly so it's it's a big fight Dan out one more issue on this question. I want to make sure listeners understand about how the state health plan is underfunded as you said to the state health plan pays the bills, so it's not it's not that hospitals or doctors are getting paid for the services they're providing to those covered but are we talking about, not for future liability.

How is it underfunded yet well the legislature appropriates a certain amount of money every year. I guess it's between 3.3 $0.4 million somewhere in there yet. The cost of healthcare going up number of people on the planet going up so they haven't The appropriations of not kept pace with costs, but the hill area of eight yeah been in the past that they did not have the same levels of appropriation so there's some arrears there fascinating of this is been a very different kind of state treasurer Dale Falwell in the past. I think most people would say that people who have held that position have been much more in the background.

Not that no casting aspersions whatsoever that they weren't doing their job properly, but they just weren't as public treasurer, Falwell seems to be much more comfortable in the limelight will makes no bones that he feels like he is the steward of the public purse. He's been a very aggressive in trying to control costs and do what's in the best interests of members and taxpayers and Dan. In fact, it said, not just at the state health plan that he is expressed concerns about recently. He's also gotten into a discussion over the financial stability of cities and towns.

What's that about your will they maintain a list of local government commission which is under the treasurer's control maintains a list of Townsend and counties what their financial stability is and they have a list of the most troubled municipalities that are having difficulties making bills hello this stems around water and sewer infrastructure. A lot of these systems are deteriorating. These misspellings do not have enough tax base to cover repairs and there's concern about public health and environmental risks from deteriorating infrastructure. What's the treasurer's role in that discussion he's been working with the UNC school governments, environmental finance center with the Department of environmental quality is water quality division trying to come up with some solutions.

Maybe some grants to help these communities maybe some mergers between underfunded small communities with counties or larger municipalities are in better shape to help help them out by using other folks infrastructure and maybe a historical chart or municipality that would allow them to maintain a governing body, but taxing and infrastructure will go to hell anyway thinking thank you all the time that we have for Carolina journal radio this week. Thank you for listening on behalf of Mitch Cope and Donna Martinez hope you'll join us again next week for more Carolina journal radio this week's edition of Carolina journal radio is brought to you by Blue Cross and Blue Shield working every day to transform the health system. More information available today.

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