Advocacy Update: Budget Deadline Approaching and New Medicaid Reform Plan
Monday, August 10, 2015 By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation
With less than a week left for their August 14th budget deadline, Senators inched closer to budget changes by holding several meetings in which they took up bills related to major policy changes that were included in their budget proposal. In Healthcare Committee, they introduced their newest Medicaid Reform plan under House Bill 372. Under the new plan, the timeline for transitioning is much more realistic than their original plan. The bill sets up for transition twelve months after the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) approves the plan. The plan allows for three statewide contracts for commercial managed care companies and up to twelve provider led entity contracts (The House proposes only provider led entities). This way, if a commercial managed care company decides to leave the state, patients still have options for healthcare. Dual eligibles (those receiving both Medicaid and Medicare) are exempt from the overall plan. Additionally, the Senate plan sets up a separate Department of Medicaid with an appointed Secretary by the Governor and with approval by legislators. Lastly, the bill ends payments to Community Care of North Carolina. Senators plan to discuss this bill today in Appropriations. There is no formal word from the House on their approval of this new plan.
Senators also held Finance Committee where they introduced Senate Bill 607 Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The bill would establish three constitutional amendments that would cap income tax at 5%, limit spending to the arbitrary formula of population plus inflation growth and require a vote of two thirds majority of legislators to raise spending levels beyond that formula, and limit access to Emergency Savings Reserve Fund in the State Treasury by requiring a vote from two thirds majority of legislators (Learn more about these changes from the Budget and Tax Center). These changes would make the development of future spending plans for our state harder and impact spending for education and healthcare. The Budget and Tax Center set up an Action Alert on this bill to contact your Senators and ask them to vote no on the bill. Like the Medicaid Reform Bill, it should be heard today in Appropriations before going to the floor.
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