North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s monthly call with reporters had a celebratory ring to it this July.

“We’ve got some great news coming out of the treasurer’s office,” he said. “Number one is that a decades-long case regarding pension spiking that originated from the previous administration, that case has been settled, and the celebration is not just the fact that this is now behind us, but on top of that, individual state employees who have done an incredible job to get us to this point — Mary Scruggs who works in the Department of Justice, Kathy Murphy who was previously in the  Department of Justice, Tim Melton, Ben Garner, our legislative liaison — all those have worked tirelessly to make sure that we are where we need to be on this particular topic. So congratulations to them.”

Folwell was referring to the June 28 decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court not to take up pension spiking cases involving the Harnett and Wilson County school boards. In both cases, the state’s second-highest court ruled against the school systems in their disputes with the state employees’ retirement system.

In separate orders, the state’s high court denied school board requests to review 2023 decisions from the state Court of Appeals. At stake in the Wilson County case is a $400,000 bill charged to the school system. The tab for Harnett County is $198,000.

The state retirement system and top legislative leaders urged the state Supreme Court in October 2023 to reject Wilson County schools’ appeal. The state filed paperwork in December 2023 asking the state Supreme Court to reject a similar request from the Harnett County school board.

Folwell also mentioned the news, which broke yesterday, that an administrative law judge upheld the decision to replace Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina with Aetna as a third-party administrator of the State Health Plan for government workers and retirees.

Folwell, who oversees the State Health Plan as State Treasurer, said in a statement, “From the beginning, it has been clear that the State Health Plan (Plan) performed a well-reasoned, high-integrity, and correct procurement process for third-party administrative services. This process clearly revealed that Aetna’s bid was superior to Blue Cross NC’s, and the Plan’s Board of Trustees properly approved the contract’s award to Aetna.”

He also touted that the unclaimed property division smashed all records, with the number of claims paid doubling to one million over the previous administration, with a total payout of $608 million.  

Folwell also mentioned that the state pension fund was up 8.2% this year and, according to a previous press release, now registers at an estimated market value of $123 billion.

He finished the call by pointing out an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing how Medicare paid out $50 billion to insurers for unrelated healthcare bills. The report found that private insurance firms running Medicare Advantage programs have been overcharging the federal government billions of dollars by making patients look sicker than they really are.

“So whether it’s the governor, or (NCDHHS) Secretary (Kody) Kinsley, or others working on medical debt or the lack of medical transparency or for waste fraud and abuse, this is something we’ll continue to work on as the state treasurer of North Carolina for the remainder of my term,” Folwell concluded.