NASW-NC Social Work Blog

Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.

Legislative Session, Week 16

Crossover week has finally passed! Legislators worked well into the night several times last week getting as many bills passed as possible. The House and Senate both released their proposed tax reform plans. Additionally, the Senate released their budget late Sunday night. The Senate plans to vote on the budget this week and send it over to the House. The House will propose their own budget within the next few weeks and a final budget will be approved in June.

Relevant bills with action:

HB 320 Medicaid Managed Care/Behavioral Health Services: This bill establishes standards for MCOs and establishes grievance and appeal procedures for enrollees. It essentially repeals 108C. The bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

HB 498 Autism Health Insurance Coverage: This bill requires insurance companies to provide Autism coverage up to age 23, as long as the diagnosis has been made before the minor was 8 years old. NASW-NC was successful in getting social workers included in this legislation as reimbursable providers for therapeutic care. The bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate. We will continue to work on this bill on the Senate side.

HB 533 Detention of Mentally Ill in Facility: This bill allows company police officers to use appropriate and reasonable force to keep a respondent in a facility where the respondent is to obtain an examination by a physician or psychologist pursuant to court order. This only applies to Ashe, Wilkes and Cumberland Counties. The bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

HB 730 Insurance and Health Care Conscience Protection: This bill allows employers to opt out of covering abortions in health plans. Originally, the bill also included contraception but this was removed on the floor. The bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

HB 805 Ban Smoking in Foster Care Setting/Infants: This bill would require DSS to implement no smoking rules in foster care settings where infants are present. It passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

HB 848 Children’s Health and Toxic Chemicals: This bill would study ways to protect children from harmful chemicals and also designates the Division of Public Health and Department of Environment and Natural Resources to identify chemicals of high concern and priority. This bill passed the Committee on Commerce and Job Development and was later re-referred to the Committee on Rules.

HB 855 Human Trafficking: This bill updates our laws to include protections for human trafficking victims. It also sets up a hotline for reporting suspected cases of trafficking. This legislation is a first in NC for addressing human trafficking. The bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

HB 674 Study Medicaid Provider Hearings: This bill directs the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee to study the contested case of the process of provider appeals under the Medicaid Program. This bill passed the House and was sent to the Senate.

SB 553 LME/MCO Enrollee Grievances & Appeals: This legislation makes changes to an LME/MCO’s grievance and appeals process. This bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House.

SB 683 Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking: This bill would create a safe harbor for victims of human trafficking and prostituted minors. This bill passed the Senate and was sent to the House.

Senate Budget Brief
Senate Appropriations– Money Report
SB 420 with special provisions
The overall plan is around $17 million less than what the Governor has proposed but includes much of what was in the Governor’s budget. Provided by Action for Children, here is a chart showing the differences in the Governor and Senate’s budgets for Health and Human Services.

  • The Senate plan makes drastic cuts to Medicaid; more so than the Governor’s budget.
  • Like the Governor’s budget, the Senate proposes prior authorization for mental health drugs effective January 1, 2014.
  • Increases Medicaid copays to the maximum allowed by CMS effective Nov. 1, 2013. Services excluded are medical emergency services, family planning, preventative services for children and pregnancy related services.
  • Reduces physician office visits for adults from 22 to 10 per year; excluding patients with chronic conditions.
  • Increases 130 hrs per month for qualified recipients with Alzheimer’s Disease and other memory disorders in Special Care Units in Adult Care Homes.
  • $100,000 is included in the budget to study if Community Care of NC (CCNC) saves money and improves health outcomes.
  • $2,000,000 is included in the budget for each year to establish a statewide telepsychiatry program.
  • Closes the 3 state operated Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers effective July 1, 2013. The money from these closings will go to LME/MCOs to be used for alcohol and substance abuse treatment services.
  • Provides $500,000 to replace an expiring federal grant and an additional $2.4 million to expand project C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty).
  • The Senate budget includes drug testing for Work First recipients. Though, no money is provided for the drug tests as participants have to pay for the test upfront. If the drug test is negative, recipients will be reimbursed through their benefits.
  • The plan provides state funds for DSS where federal funds are being lost (similar to the Governor’s budget).

Tax Reform Plan
For more on the plan, including a comparison chart, click here.

It is especially important to pay attention to these tax plans as social workers as our services could be taxed. Additionally, the increase in food/prescription drugs and other plans would be burdensome for local income families. The NC Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center explains more here.

House
The House plan would trim the state’s income tax rate, which ranges from 6% to 7.75%, to a flat 5.9%. It also shaves the corporate tax rate from 6.9% to 6.75% and adjusts how it is calculated; this would result in a tax cut of $1.2 billion over five years. The House would also expand a new combined state and local 6.65% sales tax to an assortment of alteration, repair, maintenance, cleaning and installation services that now charge tax for products but not for labor. The plan also increases the Child Tax Credit but eliminates the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Senate
The Senate plan would change the personal income tax rate to 4.5% and the corporate tax rate to 6% over a period of three years. The Senate would tax food and prescription drugs; bringing in about $1 billion in revenue. The Senate plan also applies a combined state and local 6.5% sales tax rate to more than 130 services, including professional services such as physicians and attorneys, that are not currently taxed.

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This entry was posted on May 20, 2013 by in Advocacy and tagged , , , , , , , .

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