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NC Child Legislative Update: June 15-19

Legislative Update–6/19/15

The Senate budget and the House gun bill dominated the legislative conversation this week. The Senate budget, which is filled with significant policy and funding changes, was released Monday evening, pushed through three committees on Tuesday, and approved by the full Senate in Wednesday and Thursday floor votes. The House gun bill, after weeks of stops and starts, was finally approved Wednesday, but only after being watered down significantly on the floor.

(For more details on the Senate budget, please see our summary that went out yesterday morning. Also, we’ve just posted an editorial take on the budget on our blog.)

Bills on the Move

HB372, 2015 Medicaid Modernization–The House Appropriations Committee approved the House Medicaid reform plan yesterday morning. It is scheduled to be on the floor next Tuesday. 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.

HB562, Second Amendment Affirmation Act–The big gun bill has finally passed, but it was significantly weakened on the House floor. Specifically, the pistol permit repeal was removed along with the section that would allow legislators to carry concealed firearms in the General Assembly.

SB423, Foster Care Family Act–The House passed the slightly amended Senate version of this bill on Tuesday and it is scheduled for a concurrence vote in the Senate on next Tuesday, 6/23.

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.

HB556, The ABLE Act–This bill would allow parents of children with disabilities to set up 529 tax-deferred investment accounts to save for the care of children. The bill passed the House Finance Committee this week. Funding for the ABLE Act is included in the House budget. The ABLE Act and funding for it are also included in the Senate budget.

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 this week.

SB578, Transfer Certain Abuse Investigations/DCDEE–This bill would transfer responsibility for abuse and neglect investigations in child care centers to the Division of Child Development and Early Education. The bill passed the House and is on the calendar for a concurrence vote in the Senate next Tuesday.

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