By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy and Legislation, NASW-NC
What a week at the General Assembly! The Senate decided to work on bills that were sitting in the Senate Rules Committee all last week and move them to the floor for votes.The most controversial was Medicaid Reform which the Senate proposes to create a completely new Department (more on that below). The House did not meet last week and have nothing on their calendar for tonight. It is possible that they meet later in the week to work on the bills the Senate is working through their Rules Committee.
Relevant Bills with Action:
HB 369 Criminal Law Changes: This is the omnibus bill that will expunge certain drug offenses and includes language on Erin’s Law. Under Section 4(a), the bill directs the Human Trafficking Commission to study the inclusion of age appropriate sexual abuse education in the classroom as well as other information on sexual abuse in NC. Under the bill, the Commission is directed to work with several organizations to do this, including NASW-NC. The bill will be heard a third time tonight and, if it passes the Senate, will be sent to the House for concurrence.
HB 1181 North Carolina Medicaid Modernization: Last week, the Senate came up with an entirely new Medicaid plan. Under the new plan, the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) would become an independent agency called the Department of Medical Benefits which would manage behavioral, physical and other specialized care for Medicaid and NC Health Choice recipients under a Managed Care Organization (MCO) or Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model. The Senate scheduled this new Department to be created by August 1, 2014 and governed by a 7 member Board of Directors. The Senate plan also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to immediately cease any activities related to Medicaid reform. This plan is certainly fast moving in the Senate and controversial among many. The bill is scheduled for a floor vote in the Senate tonight. If it passes, it will need to go to the House for concurrence. The Governor has already stated opposition to the new plan but the House has not spoken much for or against the bill.
Relevant Bill Filed:
HB 1276 Adjournment Sine Die: Yes, you read that correctly. The House bill filed last week sets adjournment for this Friday, July 25th. Keep in mind, the Senate filed an adjournment bill for Friday, June 27th and legislators are still in session.
News for the week:
It is with great sadness that we express our sympathy to the family of Representative Jim Fulghum (R-Wake). Rep. Fulghum passed away on Saturday evening after a brief battle with cancer. With deep connections to the social work profession, Rep. Fulghum was an advocate for group home funding, mental health issues, and so many more issues that concern our profession. He will be missed among colleagues and advocates. These legislative updates are provided by the National Association of Social Workers, North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC). NASW membership support advocacy efforts on behalf of social workers and their clients at the state and national level. Become a member of your professional association today by joining online at http://www.socialworkers.org.