Legislative Update: Medicaid Cut Stopped as Budget Talks Continue

Budget discussions continue to take center stage at the North Carolina General Assembly this week. SB 58 – Modify FMAP Cuts (Brunstetter, R – Forsyth), which will stop this month’s impending $26 million cut to Medicaid provider rates has cleared both chambers of the General Assembly and is headed to the Governor’s desk for approval.  Legislation aggressively pursued by the NCMS led to the ratification of this bill and is a major success for North Carolina physicians who fought hard for fair treatment of the Medicaid program following the release of additional FMAP funds last fall.

The Appropriations Joint Subcommittee on Health and Human Services is meeting daily to discuss various aspects of the department’s budget with Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) dominating Wednesday and Thursday’s meetings this week. The Legislature remains tasked with filling a $600 million gap in the Health and Human Services budget which could mean additional rate cuts for NC physicians unless new savings can be achieved. Your government affairs team remains a constant part of discussions with committee leaders and will continue to advocate for realistic options that will allow physicians to provide high quality, efficient care to Medicaid patients while protecting against further erosion of the physician fee schedule.

In addition to the budget debate, many scope of practice bills have been filed or are expected to be filed during this legislative session. SB 246 – Expand Pharmacists’ Immunizing Authority (Hartsell, R- Cabarrus), was introduced last week and proposes to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice to include the administration of any CDC approved vaccination or immunization to patients age 7-13 with parental consent and a specific prescription order, to patients age 14-17 with parental consent only, and to any adult at that adult’s request.  Bills to license naturopaths, license lay midwives, and to provide independent practice for nurse midwives are all expected to be filed in the coming days. It is a busy time for medicine at the 2011 General Assembly. Advocacy for your profession is more important now than ever.

Legislation to Watch:

  • SB 31 – Clarify Penalty for the Unauthorized Practice of Medicine (Mansfield, D – Cumberland). This bill passed the Senate last week without opposition. The bill was hit with significant opposition in the House Judiciary B Committee this week by unlicensed lay midwives (also referred to as Certified Professional Midwives) who currently practice illegally in the state.  The bill was not voted on Wednesday and will be discussed again at a future meeting of this committee.
  • SB 32 – Hospital Medicaid Assessment (Brunstetter, R – Forsyth).  Proposed bill to use assessments paid by hospitals to draw down more federal Medicaid funds for both hospitals and the state. This bill has now cleared both chambers of the General Assembly and is on its way to Governor Perdue’s desk.
  • HB 115 – NC Health Benefit Exchange Act (Dockham, R – Davidson).  This bill is scheduled to be heard at the next House Health and Human Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 22nd at 10:00 a.m.
  • SB 191 – Allow PAs and NPs to Sign Death Certificates (Mansfield, D – Cumberland). This bill was discussed by the Senate Judiciary I Committee on Thursday morning and was voted favorably out of the Committee. It should appear on the floor calendar next week. HB 331 was also introduced last week, which would accomplish the same change.

 Recently Filed Legislation:

 
 

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