We have been entrusted by you, the taxpayers of our state, to make fiscally and legally responsible decisions that are in the best interests of all North Carolinians. When a valuable state asset is leased for a price substantially below fair market value in a deal that does not comply with state law, it is our duty as public servants to correct the problem.
The North Carolina Senate passed legislation Tuesday directing the state and the City of Raleigh to enter a new lease on the Dorothea Dix campus that complies with state law, charges a fair price, and upholds the property's longstanding purpose of serving the mentally ill. Under a new agreement, the city will be able to lease more than 200 acres of land for a destination park.
Senate Bill 334 fixes many problems resulting from the poorly-planned lease of the property in late 2012. Prior to its signing, Senate leaders voiced strong opposition to the last-minute deal to former Gov. Beverly Perdue and her Council of State, arguing the prime downtown real estate was a valuable state asset owned by all North Carolinians and should not be given to one municipality for millions below fair market value. We also warned the lease ignored a state law requiring an analysis of needs before the transfer of the property could occur.
The Senate pledged last year to terminate the lease - an option that was clearly included within the contract signed by Raleigh leaders. We are keeping our word in all areas: in advocating for all North Carolina taxpayers, in using the Dorothea Dix property to benefit the mentally ill, and in allowing Raleigh to have a large destination park, so long as city leaders pay their fair share and comply with the law.
Improving Health Care Transparency and Reducing Costs
With health care costs rising and state Medicaid spending consuming an ever-increasing portion of the state's budget, we must move closer to a system that rewards high-quality, low-cost care.
To that end, Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) filed major reform legislation Wednesday aimed at improving medical billing transparency, reducing health care costs and helping consumers make better-informed decisions about their treatment.
Senate Bill 473, the Health Care Cost Reduction and Transparency Act of 2013, will require hospitals and outpatient surgery centers to disclose all treatment costs associated with the top 50 most common procedures performed at their facilities. The information will be published via the North Carolina Health Information Exchange, the state's public information forum.
The bill will make this cost information available for the first time, providing an important tool for consumers and employers to evaluate the health care services they purchase. And it will prevent hospitals and outpatient surgery centers from charging patients twice for radiology services provided once, a practice brought to light as part of a series published late last year by the Raleigh News & Observer/Charlotte Observer highlighting ongoing issues with transparency and rising health care costs.
North Carolinians are faced with having more of their paychecks going toward health insurance premiums and more of their tax dollars funding Medicaid services. They deserve to know and understand what they are paying for - and to make informed choices about their care.
Senator Phil Berger
President Pro Tempore
2008 Legislative Building
Raleigh, NC 27601-2808
(919) 733 - 5708