Investigation: Anti-health care bill would secretly cost $65 million
RALEIGH (Feb. 14) – A fiscal note on an anti-health care bill in the North Carolina legislature failed to mention that the bill would cost $65 million a year, an NC Policy Watch investigation found. This contradicts an earlier fiscal note that did mention the figure.
The fiscal note, which legislators generally count on to be unbiased takes on what pending legislation could cost or save the state, omitted references to an estimated $65 million in tax revenue that the state expects to be collecting once health care reform goes into effect in 2014.
The anti-health care bill, HB2, would attempt to exempt North Carolina from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for individuals to purchase insurance. If North Carolina is successful in stopping the individual mandate, which the bill in the state legislature aims to do, that money would not materialize.
The $65 million in extra revenue appeared in an earlier fiscal memorandum for HB 2, available here, but didn’t make it to the fiscal note now up on the General Assembly’s Website.
“This type of secrecy stands in direct opposition to government transparency and accountability,” said Adam Searing, director of the NC Health Access Coalition. “We all deserve to hear the real costs of denying millions of North Carolinians health care, and this is a brazen attempt to hide those costs.”
The N.C. Department of Insurance provided information about the expected revenue to fiscal researchers compiling data on the bill’s potential cost. The state collects a 1.9 percent existing tax on health insurance policies and would amount to about $65 million a year, based on 880,000 people without insurance expected to sign up once the federal law goes into effect.
Why did the fiscal research staff leave that out? A source speaking on background told Policy Watch that the fiscal research department, in consultation with people at the General Assembly, made a decision to only concentrate on the litigation costs the bill would have if the state Attorney General joined 26 other states in opposing the national health care plan.
NC Policy Watch investigative reporter Sarah Ovaska uncovered the story. Her full blog post is availablehere.