Beginning a New Legislative Year ...
Beginning a New Legislative Year ...
Legislative Update
News from the NCGA
March 7, 2017
by Tony Adams, Adams and Associates Government Relations

The NC General Assembly convened for the 2017 long session on February 25. Republicans retained control of the Senate with a majority of 35 and the Democrats a minority of 15. Republicans also maintained their majority in the House, with 74 seats to the Democrats’ 46. By controlling three-fifths of seats in each chamber, the Republicans hold supermajorities, which allows them to override any veto by newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.
The Senate leadership remains mostly unchanged from 2016, with Sen Phil Berger remaining as Senate President Pro-Tem, Sen Louis Pate as Deputy President Pro-Tem, Sen Harry Brown as Majority Leader, and Senators Wesley Meredith and Jerry Tillman as Majority Whips. Sen Dan Blue will again be the Minority Leader, with Sen Terry Van Duyn as Minority Whip. Two of the most significant changes in leadership are the changes in the chairs of the powerful Rules and Finance committees. Sen Bill Rabon replaced the retired Tom Apodaca as chairman of the Rules Committee, and Robert Rucho, who also retired, was replaced as chair of the Finance Committee by three co-chairs: Andrew Brock, Jerry Tillman, and Tommy Tucker.
In the House of Representatives, Rep Tim Moore was re-elected to another term as Speaker of the House, but Rep Sarah Stevens was chosen to replace the retired Paul Stam as Speaker Pro-Tem. Also, Rep John Bell was chosen to replace Mike Hager, also retired, as Majority Leader. Rep Darren Jackson was elected by the Democrats to replace former Rep Larry Hall as the Minority Leader. The legislature has been in session barely more than a month and leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate are already in significant policy disagreements with Gov Cooper.
Gov Cooper recently unveiled his proposed budget for the fiscal years 2017–18. He included several items related to aging in his budget. Funding for Adult Protective Services and Guardianship was included, as was a cash supplement to help low-income, elderly, or disabled individuals to remain in their homes or live in licensed adult care homes through the State/County Special Assistance Program. The program is shared at a 50% rate between the state and county. He also recommended an expansion of Medicaid to cover more than 600,000 additional North Carolinians. The House and Senate have only recently begun working on their versions of the budget, and the expectation is that it will take most of the 2017 session to reconcile the differences between the Governor’s budget proposals and the House and Senate.

2017 Legislative Issues of Importance to NCALA

In 2016, the approved budget for that year provided nearly $4 million in state funding for temporary assistance to adult care homes and facilities that serve Special Assistance recipients, bringing total available funding, including local dollars, to $7.5 million. This equates to a $34 supplemental temporary payment per recipient, but it was NOT an official increase in the Special Assistance rate. (The $34 temporary assistance payments began October 1, 2016, and are due to end no later than June 30, 2017). By no later than April 1, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was ordered by the legislature to submit to the General Assembly a detailed plan for a long-term solution on how to ensure adequate reimbursement to facilities for serving recipients of State/County Special Assistance without increasing the Medicaid eligibility income limit for State/County Special Assistance recipients and thereby expanding Medicaid. During the 2017 session, NCALA priorities will include advocating for a permanent increase for Personal Care Services and the Special Assistance rate for providers, as well as for an increase for resident’s personal funds allowance.
NCALA will also advocate for permanently lifting the Special Care Unit moratorium (Session Law 2015-241, Section 12G.2). Beginning on July 31, 2013, the law ordered the moratorium on DHHS, Division of Health Service Regulation-issued SCU licenses. The moratorium is due to be lifted on June 30, 2017.
Proposed Repeal of Certificate of Need (CON): NC Senate leaders are expected to again push in the 2017 session to eliminate the Certificate of Need program that regulates the placement of new healthcare facilities. After numerous attempts to have the issue voted on in 2016, the effort failed, but there is no doubt that the issue will be brought up again in the 2017 session.
NCALA will also be working in alliance with the NC Coalition on Aging to promote the 2017 Day at the Legislature on April 4, 2017. Anyone interested in joining us at the NC General Assembly on April 4, please contact Frances Messer.
NCALA is proud to announce the members of the 2017 Legislative Committee:
  • Steve Bailey, Ridge Care
  • Marc Maready, Ridge Care
  • Chris Parker, Vienna Village
  • Caroline Hendricks, The Coventry at St Josephs of the Pines
  • Torrey Locklear, Fayetteville Manor
  • Debra Hart, Morningside of Raleigh
  • Mike Pachowski, Brookdale Senior Living
  • Susan Kelly, Brookdale Senior Living
  • Syndell Lawhon, Brookdale Senior Living
For more information about the North Carolina General Assembly, or to identify your legislators, please visit www.ncleg.net. For more information on these and other legislative issues, please contact NCALA.

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