State treasurer talks legislative asks, weight loss drug coverage 

Folwell wants the General Assembly to match up to $25 a month for 401(k) and 457 plans

The North Carolina State Health Plan ended coverage of Wegovy and other new popular weight-loss drugs on April 1. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / AP Photo)

RALEIGH —North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell discussed his agency’s legislative asks related to retirement plans as well as about the State Health Plan dropping coverage for certain weight loss drugs in his monthly call with the media. 

“As part of our legislative agenda this year, we are going to ask the General Assembly to put in a match up to $25 per month for the 401 or the 457 plan,” Folwell said on the call with reporters. “And I’m saying that as the budget writers are writing the budget and there is about a 50% gap between the local employee participation in the 401 and the state employee participation in the 401. 

 “You can’t talk about being retirement-ready when you have that big a gap.” 

He said one of the biggest differences is the fact that many of the local counties and cities actually match their 401(k) or 457. 

“Twenty-five dollars doesn’t sound like that much, but I think that’s recurring over $140 million a year,” said Folwell. “And we think it’s important for our plan to get people to do everything we can to encourage them to put money in 401s and 457s and to be retirement-ready.” 

Folwell also addressed the State Health Plan ending coverage for weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Zepbound as of April 1. He said that Cody Kingsley, the secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, has “seemed to suggest that this is something that Medicaid and North Carolina should cover.” 

“All the documentation that we have at the State Health Plan about what this is costing us,” Folwell said, “I think it would be helpful for him to look at what it could cost for this to be covered in Medicaid.” 

Folwell has indicated in the past few months that pharmaceutical companies have refused to lower prices of those weight-loss drugs. He said it would cost the State Health Plan around $170 million this year to cover 22,000 Plan subscribers, and that the premiums for individuals on the Plan would double, going from $25 to $50. Folwell said that cost would be similar to giving a 4% bonus to 253,000 state employees. 

Folwell touted his record as treasurer, such as retiring 60% of the state debt over the last eight years while warning about inflation and federal government spending. 

Folwell, who lost in the primary for the GOP nomination in the gubernatorial race, also seemed to decline to give his support to Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in the general election. 

“I’m not going to waste my vote going forward in my life on anyone, and you know what I’ve said previously about why I thought I was the best person for the job,” Folwell said. “It’s up to the Republican nominee to prove to the voters why, including me, why he’s the best person for the job.”

About A.P. Dillon 1294 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_