Advocacy Update: One more week of session and harmful bills
Monday, September 28, 2015
Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation
The end is near! Last week, legislators filed Senate Joint Resolution 721: Adjournment Resolution. This bill ends the current legislative session on Tuesday, September 29th. The bill also states that the start of next year’s short session will begin on April 25, 2016 in hopes to be done by June 30th. The resolution, already passed by the Senate and awaiting House approval, starts session a little earlier than usual next year as 2016 is an election year. Legislators will want to wrap up the session quickly in order to resume campaigning. During a legislative session, legislators running for office cannot fund-raise.
Other relevant bills this week included many harmful measures as legislators are pushing to wrap up as many loose ends as possible.
House Bill 297 End Marketing/Sale Unborn Children Body Parts: This legislation prohibits the sale of fetal tissue or any other part of an aborted fetus. This idea stems from videos released earlier this summer where executives from Planned Parenthood discussed the sale of tissue. Planned Parenthood in North Carolina commented that this is something they already prohibit in the state and is not a current practice here. Additionally, the bill prohibits state funding to any organization wishing to provide family planning services, pregnancy prevention activities, or adolescent parenting programs that also provide abortions. The bill passed the Senate and is on the House floor this week. NASW-NC Opposes
House Bill 318 Protect NC Workers Act: This bill includes a provision that would permanently bar North Carolina’s ability to suspend SNAP’s three month time limit for childless adults who are not working or in training for fewer than 20 hours per week- a very harmful measure in a recovering economy. The bill also bans counties and municipalities from having “sanctuary city” policies that limit enforcement of immigration laws that vary from county to county. The bill is scheduled for a final vote this week. NASW-NC Opposes
House Bill 373 Elections: This bill moves the primary elections in NC to March 15th from May. The bill passed and will be sent to the Governor for signature. The following schedule would be adopted under the bill:
- February 19: deadline to register to vote in primary
- March 3: early voting begins
- March 12: early voting ends
- March 15: primary date
- May 3: second primary (runoff) held, if necessary, if no federal races are involved
- May 24: second primary held, if necessary, if federal race is involved
Senate Bill 371 LME/MCO Claims Reporting/Mental Health Amends: This bill establishes data submission requirements for LME/MCOs, prohibits withdrawal from multi-county area authority without proper approval, updates the structure of the area board, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve salary adjustments for certain employees, requires Health and Human Services to develop a plan for extending Community Guide services to all individuals on the Medicaid Innovations Waiver waiting list, and a few other changes. The bill passed the House and is on the Senate floor this week.
House Bill 372 Medicaid Transformation and Reorganization: As reported last week, this bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. The bill allows for the development of three Prepaid Health Plans (statewide) and up to ten Provider-Led Entities (regional and the Department of Health and Human Services will develop six regions). The bill creates a new Division of Health Benefits under the Department of Health and Human Services and eliminates the Division of Medical Assistance (currently operating Medicaid in our state) after twelve months of the contracts being in place. However, the employees under the Division of Health Benefits would not be considered state employees. The plan has to be approved by the federal government which can take 18 months or more. Additionally, the plan requires that the current LME/MCO structure for providing behavioral health services be excluded until four years AFTER capitated contracts begin with Prepaid Health Plans. Managed care providers are responsible for all administrative functions, including grievances and appeals. Lastly, contracts with Community Care of North Carolina would be eliminated. NASW-NC Opposes
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