NASW-NC Social Work Blog

Your source for the social work profession in North Carolina.

Legislative Session, Week 17

The Senate Budget
Senators worked hard last week to pass their budget with few amendments taken as possible. Senators also made it clear that Medicaid was the driving force of the budget. Frequent comments were made during budget discussions that other departments could not be funded fully because Medicaid took all the state’s money; and thus the state has to totally change how it operates. To see the full budget, click here. For more on the budget, including side by side comparison charts of the Senate and Governor’s proposals, visit Action for Children.

The budget has many alarming issues in it, just a few highlighted below:

  • Drug testing for Work First recipients. Participants have to pay for the test upfront. If the drug test is negative, recipients will be reimbursed through their benefits.
  • Closes the 3 state operated Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers effective July 1, 2013. A portion of the money from these closings will go to LME/MCOs to be used for alcohol and substance abuse treatment services.
  • No continuation or carry over of the $38.7M for people in group homes that do not qualify for personal care services (PCS).
  • Phases out supplemental salaries to pay teachers and instructional support personnel (including school social workers) at the ‘M’ level (masters or doctoral level). The supplements would end in the 2014- 2015 school year.
  • Reduction in funding for instructional support personnel.
  • No plan to expand Medicaid.
  • Funding for 10 positions at the State Board of Elections to help implement Voter ID efforts.
  • Reduces funds for prescription drugs under Medicaid. Requires prior authorization for mental health medications effective Jan. 1, 2014. A 72-hour supply can be provided.
  • Closes six prisons: Bladen County (172 beds), Duplin (328 beds), Robeson (276 beds), Wayne (428 beds), Buncombe (182 beds  and Orange (200 beds) and the Western Youth Institution in Morganton (708 beds). Also closes the Lenoir Youth Development Center and Detention Centers in Richmond and Buncombe counties.
  • Eliminates three full-time, currently filled positions in the Division of Juvenile Justice.

We are unsure when the House will come out with their budget but it will most likely be in the next two weeks. After this budget comes out, the House and Senate will appoint a committee to bring the 3 budgets (House, Senate and Governor’s) together for one state budget.

Relevant bills with action:

SB  306 Capital Punishment/Amendments: This bill does several things including repealing the Racial Justice Act, starting executions back up on death row, protecting physicians, nurses and pharmacists from violations from their licensing boards by participating in lethal injections (assisted suicide) and a few other amendments. This bill was for discussion only in Judiciary Subcommittee B. The bill will be heard again and voted on. As it is a Senate bill, it has already passed the Senate.
SB 334 Dorothea Dix Lease:   This bill allows for renegotiation of the lease agreement signed by Gov. Perdue. It allows the state to work up to a year to seek appraisals and come to another negotiation  It would also allow DHHS to keep up to 30 acres of the 325 acres for offices. All proceeds from a lease or sale would go to mental health services; required by the original property deeds. The bill passed out of committee and was sent to the House floor.
HB 580 Establish Statewide Telepsychiatry Program: The bill appropriates $2M in fiscal years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 to DHHS to establish and administer a telepsychiatry program. The bill would allow an emergency department to use a physician or other health care provider licensed in NC to provide acute mental health or substance abuse care from a site at which the consulting provider is physically located. This is already being done at ECU and Carolinia’s Medical Center. The bill passed out of Health Care and was referred to Appropriations.
HB 786 RECLAIM NC Act: This legislation is a comprehensive immigration reform bill. It passed Judiciary Subcommittee B and was referred to Finance. The NC Justice Center has developed a terrific fact sheet on this bill.
HB 971 A Family for Every Child/Foster Care: This legislation creates the Permanency Innovation Initiative Oversight Committee and the Permanency Innovation Initiative Fund to address permanency outcomes for children living in foster care. The bill would also designate the use of the program Family Finding to help seek family members of children in foster care. This bill passed out of Health and Human Services and was referred to Appropriations.
HB 976 Funds/Two-Tiered Pay for Three Way Contracts: This legislation would direct DHHS to develop a two-tiered system of payment for local inpatient psychiatric beds or bed days based on patient acuity level. The bill passed out of Health and Human Services and was referred to Appropriations.

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2013 by in Advocacy and tagged , , , , , , , .

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