NC House Budget is Encouraging on Medicaid Reform

The North Carolina House of Representative’s  budget proposal, released on Tuesday, June 10, is an encouraging step in the right direction as far as building on the progress made on Medicaid reform by the North Carolina Medical Society, other health care organizations, the Governor and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) over the past 16 months.

Unlike the Senate’s budget released just a week ago, the House version does not include eligibility cuts. The senate wanted to cut Medicaid eligibility for the aged, blind and disabled. The House budget does not propose a new provider tax, although it does retain the 3 percent rate cuts that took effect on January 1, 2014, but eliminates the authority for the NC DHHS to begin a shared savings program. The House does not bar NC DHHS from renewing or initiating additional contracts with Community Care of North Carolina and it doesn’t make broad cuts to hospitals or dramatic changes to hospital payment formulas.

The House budget does include the following positive provisions:

  •  Allocates $4 milliion to supplement funding for the hospitals to connect to the NC Health Information Exchange (NCHIE).
  • Assigns $1 million to continue efforts toward Medicaid reform.
  • Targets funds for Facility-Based Crisis Centers and Behavioral Health Urgent Care Centers.
  •  Includes a provision currently in pending House Bill 18 to ban the use of tanning beds by those under age 18.
  •  Mandated primary care case management for all dual eligibles.
  • New mandates for notices of state plan amendments that would provide greater advanced notice to providers before changes would be implemented in Medicaid.
  • Improved language on the sharing of clinical data under the NC HIE with NC General Assembly staff under certain circumstances.

The House version of the budget also includes a new requirement for the Medicaid Director to be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the NC General Assembly  for a 5-year term. Access the actual bill provisions on pages 75-120 of the budget document. The money report is available on pages 31-54, here.

The House budget proposal will go to its first floor vote tomorrow (Thursday) and last floor vote on Friday. The next step in the budgeting process is to move to conference committee with the goal of reconciling the Governor’s, the House and the Senate versions of the budget and bringing the final budget bill to a vote. Legislators are still hopeful they will complete the process by July 4.

Watch the Bulletin and your email for updates and, if necessary, a call to action to help educate your legislator on what is best for your patients.

 
 

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