News: Quick Takes

Bond agencies reaffirm North Carolina’s AAA rating

N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell on Thursday announced that all three major national bond rating agencies reaffirmed the state’s “AAA” bond rating.

All three noted stable outlooks as an upcoming sale of about $106 million of General Obligation Bonds and $300 million in Limited Obligation Bonds is set for later this month.

Folwell has recently discussed a looming review of North Carolina’s “AAA” bond rating, and the urgency to maintain high creditworthiness.

The bonds take advantage of lower interest rates, thus reducing interest costs for taxpayers.

“The transactions refund over $400 million of bonds originally issued to fund important projects around the state including schools, roads and other infrastructure improvements,” Folwell said. “Since we are able to take advantage of historically low interest rates, and our AAA bond ratings, we will save tens of millions of dollars.”

North Carolina is one of only 12 states to earn the AAA bond rating by all three rating agencies.

Each of the rating agencies commented on the state’s diverse economic base; history of conservative fiscal management; a commitment to strong reserves, and managing debt and pension liabilities.

The rating agencies issued the following ratings for North Carolina, with General Obligation Bonds listed first, followed by Limited Obligation Bonds:

Thursday’s announcement followed news that another of his goals have been met.

The State Health Plan would save about $8.5 million — beginning in January 2018 — after negotiating new terms for the administration of NC HealthSmart, which is the State Health Plan’s healthy living initiative. The program offers health and wellness resources and services to support members’ personal health goals.

The renegotiated contract is for the first nine months of 2018. It places additional limits on the scope of the services provided.

The State Health Plan is refocusing its population health management strategy to the five diseases that are the largest drivers of cost: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and hypertension. At the same time it seeks to eliminate duplication of services provided by other vendors.

“We believe that it is essential that the plan focus on those who need the resources the most and where we can make the biggest impact,” Folwell said. “In addition, we are looking to partner with other groups that provide similar services either free to the public, or through existing contractual relationships, to continue to offer Plan members the resources they need to get healthy.”

Folwell said greater efficiency was needed because a single patient could have up to five different case managers for any one illness.