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NC CHild Legislative Update: June 8-12

Legislative Update–6/12/15

The Senate delayed the release of its budget proposal until next Monday at 4 pm, but did release a new tax package that would further diminish available resources for children’s programs. Meanwhile, the House released its Medicaid reform bill, which looks very similar to its proposal from last year.

Bills on the Move

HB372, 2015 Medicaid Modernization–Medicaid is the most important health program for children in North Carolina, serving over one million kids statewide. This bill would move Medicaid from a fee-for-service payment system to one managed by provider-led entities (PLE), which would receive a capitated payment (lump sum) based on their patient population. Here is a brief list of key features:

-The bill would require 90% of Medicaid recipients to recieve their services from a PLE five years after bill passage.
-Each PLE would be required to serve at least 30,000 patients and assume risk-adjusted capitation rates.
-Medicaid would still be run by DHHS, but a new legislative oversight committee on Medicaid would be established.
-Behavioral health care is not integrated under this plan. Dental and pharmaceutical services are not included, as well.

This bill provides a good starting place for a discussion of Medicaid reform, but does not include many of the details that will determine whether or not it will be good for children. As the process moves forward, we’ll continue to advocate for adequate provider payments to ensure availability of services, quality assurance measures, and a captitated payment system that rewards preventive care for children.

The bill passed the House Health Committee this week and will next be heard in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB117, NC Competes Act (Senate version)–This is a massive job development and tax bill introduced by the Senate on Wednesday afternoon for discussion in the Commerce Committee. The bill would cut the personal income tax, expand the standard deduction, and further cut corporate taxes. Overall, the tax plan would result in a loss of $72.7M in FY16 and $421.1M in FY17. I assume that this lost revenue will be reflected in the Senate budget proposal. Lastly, the bill caps itemized deductions at $20,000, including charitable contributions, which, when combined with the increased standard deduction, would nearly eliminate the state tax incentive to give to non-profits.

HB424, Fostering Success–This bill would extend the age of foster care from 18-years-old to 19-years-old. The bill passed the full house this week.

SB423, Foster Care Family Act–Both the Senate and House have passed slightly different versions of this bill, but in order for it to be sent to the governor, one chamber has to approve the other’s bill. This week, the House Judiciary III Committee approved the bill and it has been added to next week’s calendar for a full House vote.

The purpose of this bill is create a more normal family environment, reduce stigma, and improve outcomes for children in foster care. Specifically, the bill would open the door for children in foster care to participate in normal, age-appropriate activities like spending the night at a friend’s house, playing a sport, and getting a driver’s license. The bill would also allow DHHS to pursue a Medicaid waiver and would provide liability insurance for foster parents.

HB562, Second Amendment Affirmation Act–This sweeping gun bill allows gun owners to bring firearms on school grounds (if the gun is locked in a vehicle), eliminates the pistol permit requirement, and weakens background check requirements. In yet another delay for this bill, it was pulled from the House floor on Monday and sent back to the Rules Committee for further revisions.

SB286, Regulate the Sale of E-liquid Containers–This bill requires that all liquid products that are intended to be vaporized have child proof packaging. The bill is meant to combat a spate of poisonings from children ingesting E-cigarette refills. This bill passed the House Commerce Committee this week and will be heard in the Judiciary II Committee next. The bill has previously passed the Senate.

HB250, Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act–This bill would establish the Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund, which would provide financial assistance to targeted corner stores to help them stock fruits and vegetables. The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee this week.

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