By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy and Legislation, NASW-NC
Social workers found victory during the eighth week of the legislative short session! On Monday night, the last day of the fiscal year, the Senate rejected the House mini budget, Senate Bill 3, without even voting. They returned the bill to the House for ‘further consideration.’ The House then returned the bill back to the Senate on Tuesday stating they did not follow the rules by rejecting Senate Bill 3 without a vote. This unusual game of ping pong with the budget sent the bill to a committee meeting with the appointed budget conferees and no further discussion happened on the floor of the House or Senate.
NASW-NC Members in the House Gallery for support of HJR 1262 Suicide Prevention Resolution. (L to R) Dana Courtney; Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation; Nicholle Karim, NAMI-NC; Kathryn Falbo-Woodson, Mental Health Association and MSW Candidate
On Wednesday, the appointed 41-member budget conferees held an unusual open-to-the-public meeting. During the meeting, differences in the House and Senate budgets were discussed and the group broke into a private negotiating meeting. Upon return to the public meeting, the Senate announced that they would accept the House Medicaid budget. This means, over 15,000 aged, blind, and disabled North Carolinans will NOT lose their Medicaid services! We are excited the Senate acted on behalf of our advocacy efforts to save services for our aged, blind, and disabled populations. While the Senate agreed to the Medicaid spending, the conferees are still working out differences in teacher pay raises, the education lottery, and film incentives.
Bills with Relevance:
HB 1181 North Carolina Medicaid Modernization: This bill was introduced a few weeks ago with controversy in Section 10 regarding a pilot for I/DD patients living in certain group settings to have integrated physical and behavioral health care under Cardinal Behavioral Health. Under the new edition, this section becomes a study with multiple stakeholders involved. The bill was discussed in committee and passed the House with a vote of 113 to 0. The bill now goes to the Senate where support is underwhelming as Senators do not believe this plan, supported by the House and the Governor, will do much to make Medicaid a cost predicting system in our state.
House Joint Resolution 1262 Suicide Prevention Resolution: On Wednesday, House members read the suicide prevention resolution on the floor. The resolution directs the Legislative Research Commission to study ways to prevent suicide among minors and veterans including training for key health care providers that work to assess, treat and manage patients with suicidal ideation. After overwhelming, bipartisan support from legislators who shared personal stories on the floor, the bill passed with no opposition and was sent to the Senate. Following the reading of the resolution, NASW-NC, NAMI-NC, The Mental Health Association, and others were recognized in the gallery by legislators for our support and continued work on suicide prevention.
What to look forward to this week:
Legislators have announced they are finished with committee work. They will use this week to focus on the budget and work out their differences. There are a few more bills expected to be heard on the floor this week but it should mostly be a quiet week with budget work being done behind closed doors.