Cone Health exec calls SHP board memebrs ‘sorry SOBs’

Greensboro News & Record obtains an angry (to say the least) email by a Cone Health executive blasting lawmakers– and state Treasurer Dale Folwell—over changes to the State Health Plan:

Cone’s assistant director of finance Frank Kauder said in a July 1 message to the health plan’s mostly volunteer board of trustees that changes they made in hospital reimbursement were driven by insensitive, partisan political considerations.

“Your insane plan would financially destroy every hospital in this state, but that’s your ultimate goal, isn’t it (?),” Kauder said in the message to state Treasurer Dale Folwell and the other nine board members. “Poor people generally don’t vote for your party, so you want them to die,” Kauder wrote, ending the missive by calling the board members “sorry SOB’s.”

The N&R reports Cone Health issued a statement critical of Krauder’s email:

“This is a personal opinion and Cone Health disagrees with the content and tone of the email,” the health system said. “Respectful dialogue is the key to a better health plan for state employees.”

At issue is the state’s Clear Pricing Project:

The dispute stems from a new, health-care reimbursement formula that Folwell and the plan’s trustees adopted for next year.

That formula aims to cut health-care costs partly by capping what hospitals and other medical providers can charge plan members for certain procedures at defined percentages above admittedly frugal Medicare rates.

For example, the revised plan would pay large hospitals 160% of the Medicare rate for inpatient care and 230% of what Medicare allows for outpatient services.

Folwell projects such changes would save taxpayers about $258 million and plan members more than $50 million in out-of-pocket costs. He calls it the “Clear Pricing Project” because he argues that patients could better know in advance what medical treatments would cost them.

As Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak reports, Folwell’s goal is to save taxpayers $258 million and plan members almost $57 million by providing “desperately needed” transparency to medical costs. The plan –as Havlak writes–would “tether” payments to Medicare prices.

Cone Health CEO Terry Akin issued a statement saying the new health plan “would “reduce, and in some cases eliminate, services we provide daily. Thereby, risking our ability to invest in the future.”

Employees who are patients of hospitals that don’t sign off on the plan by January would risk paying out of network costs.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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