The Latest Assisted Living News from the NC General Assembly!
The Latest Assisted Living News from the NC General Assembly!
Legislative Update
News from the NCGA
May 14, 2019
by Tony Adams, Adams and Associates Government Relations
May 9 was the crossover deadline that a bill filed in the 2019 long session of the legislature in either the House or Senate had to be passed in one of the chambers to be debated in the other chamber. Bills with fees and other financial impact do not have to meet the crossover deadline. Furthermore, bills that pass either the House or Senate but not the other chamber in 2019 are still eligible for consideration in the 2020 short session. As detailed in the previous report, there are a significant number of bills that have been introduced that are of interest to NCALA and other advocates for the elderly.
The House has passed its version of the 2019–2020 budget and a section of the bill has $2,250,000 for special assistance personal needs allowance for adult care home residents. This increases the personal needs allowance for residents from $46 to $70 a month effective October 1, 2019. The budget also allocates $3,300,000 for temporary assistance for facilities that serve special assistance residents. The Senate will now consider the House budget and vote on whether to agree with the House or, if not, work out the differences in a joint committee.

House Bill 539

One of the most important bills is House Bill 539, which would appropriate $19,872,000 for the years 2019–2021 to provide temporary financial assistance to facilities licensed to accept State-County Special Assistance payments. The amount of these payments is equal to $184 per month for each resident of the facility as of the first day of the month who is a recipient of State-County Special Assistance. The bill is currently in the House Health Committee but has had no vote. If passed in that committee it will be sent to the House Appropriations Committee and then to Rules Committee.

House Bill 410

The original version of the bill would require nursing homes and adult care homes to have emergency electrical services available for use during power outages. Each facility would be required to provide emergency electrical services sufficient to provide heat, air conditioning, lighting, and other essential electrical services required by the rules of the Medical Care Commission. After objections to the bill, a committee substitute was approved in the House that changes the bill so that a study committee will be required to report its recommendations by March 2020. After the revised bill was passed by the House it was sent to the Senate and is now in the Senate Rules Committee.

Moratorium on Special Care Units

In the current proposed House budget, the moratorium on special care units is extended from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2021. There are certain exceptions in the section of the budget on the moratorium extension.

Senate Bill 539

Which would repeal North Carolina’s Certificate of Need laws, is in the Senate Rules Committee and has not been voted on.

House Bill 698

Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to study the standards for obtaining assisted living program accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Health Care to determine the feasibility of issuing adult care home licenses based on accreditation and to report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services. Recommendations to the committee shall be reported no later than March 1, 2020. The bill passed the House without opposition and is now in the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.

Senate Bill 302

Passed the Senate is currently in the House Rules Committee. The bill authorizes adult care homes to use service plans completed as the result of a Medicaid personal care services assessment to fulfill the activities of daily living portion of the required service plans or care plans for adult care home residents.

House Bill 729 and Senate Bill 537

Both bills state that examination and establishment of a new payment methodology for adult care homes providing care to North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries to promote health, as well as fair and reasonable compensation for the services rendered. It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide funding to adult care homes in a manner that recognizes the importance of a stable and reliable funding stream to ensure access, choice, and quality of care within adult care homes. To achieve these aims, the NC Department of Health and Human Services would be directed to establish and convene a workgroup to evaluate reimbursement options under managed care for adult care homes that consider all funding streams and to develop a service definition under managed care to accomplish this intent. The workgroup will consist of adult care home representatives and other relevant stakeholders. H729 has received no discussion yet in the House and is currently in the House Health Committee. However, S537 passed the Senate and has been sent to the House Rules Committee.

House Bill 754

Would appropriate funds to the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services, to enhance protections for residents of long-term care facilities by moving the state’s long-term care ombudsman program toward national standards. The appropriated funds would create 10 full-time equivalent ombudsman positions within the office of the State Long-term Care Ombudsman program. This bill is also currently in the House Committee on Appropriations, Health and Human Services, but has not been debated on as of yet.

House Bill 70

Would extend the deadlines by which certain providers are required to connect to and participate in North Carolina’s Health Information network known as NC Healthconnex. The Department of Health and Human Services shall establish a process to grant exemptions to providers of Medicaid and other state-funded health care services for whom acquiring and implementing an electronic health record system and connecting to the HIE network would constitute an undue hardship. Lastly, connection is voluntary for certain providers, including personal care, community alternatives programs, private duty nursing, and Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) service providers. The bill has passed the house and is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Minimum Wage Bills

Three bills have been filed that would raise the minimum wage. H366 would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and then automatically adjust for cost of living. It is in the House Rules Committee. S291 would also raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It is in Senate Rules. H830 would raise the wage to $15 an hour for large employers and $9 an hour for small employers. None of the three bills has a chance of passage in the 2019 long session of the legislature.

House Bill 185/Senate Bill 143

The SAVE Act, An act to deliver Safe, Accessible, Value Directed and Excellent Health Care by Modernizing Nursing Regulations. The bill’s objective is to modernize healthcare by removing outdated and unnecessary restrictions on Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. H185 is in House Health Committee and S143 is in Senate Rules Committee. Neither bill has been debated in committee to date, but since both have fees included the bills are eligible for consideration in 2019 and in the short session of 2020.
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.

ADAMS AND ASSOCIATES GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

1706 Rangecrest Road, Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 841-0964    (919) 801-1837 Cell
ta@adamsgov-relations.com
919-467-2486
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