(Austin, TX.) – North Carolina State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, will receive the Dan Weber Patient Advocacy award at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, today. The award is being presented by Free2Care, a nonpartisan coalition of over 70,000 physicians, and 34 member organizations representing over 8 million supporters working together to reform health care. The coalition represents both physicians and patients focusing on the doctor-patient relationship working to transform health care through price transparency, access and choice.
The Dan Weber Patient Advocacy Award is named after the late founder of the Association of Mature American Citizens, which represents Americans that are 50 and older. The organization is “centered on American values, freedom of the individual, free speech, and exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, rule of law, and love of family, with benefits at all levels.”
“As keeper of the public purse, I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of those that teach, protect or serve and taxpayers like them,” Treasurer Folwell said. “Many public servants are one medical experience away from not making ends meet. They don’t consume health care, it consumes them. A life-saving event shouldn’t cost a life savings. Fighting the health care cartel -where it’s always profits over patients - is less lonely with organizations like Free2Care. In the words of Tom Petty, “You could stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won't back down.”
Earlier this year, Treasurer Folwell expressed his support for the Medical Debt De-Weaponization Act introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislation would create a pro-family, anti-poverty, consumer protection law that sets parameters around the provision of charity care and limits the ability of large medical facilities to charge unreasonable interest rates and employ unfair tactics in debt collection.
The treasurer’s backing of the legislation is a part of his ongoing battle against the health care cartel that began with his effort to bring transparent pricing to members of the North Carolina State Health Plan (SHP). In 2020, his efforts resulted in the NC State Health Plan Network moving away from a commercial-based payment model to a reference-based, transparent pricing model tied to Medicare rates.
The treasurer and the SHP have also been working with academics to study large hospitals’ lack of charity care and the use of aggressive measures to collect medical debt including damaging credit scores, garnishing wages, suing patients or encouraging them to open a medical credit card than can charge interest. Additionally, they have produced peer-reviewed analysis that found that the state’s foremost hospital systems enjoyed a significant growth in cash and investments during the pandemic, while publicly claiming they were battling big hits to their budgets.
“Free2Care is proud to honor Dale Folwell with the 2022 Dan Weber Patient Advocacy Award,” said Free2Care Executive Director David Balat. “His relentless effort to protect patients through price transparency and the de-weaponization of medical debt is making a difference in North Carolina and creating ripples throughout the nation. Our organization stands ready to come alongside these efforts that support patients and physicians.”
The SHP, a division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, provides health care and pharmaceutical coverage to nearly 750,000 teachers, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, active and retired state employees and their dependents. For more information, visit the SHP website.