North Carolina’s state senators and representatives returned to Raleigh on Monday April 25, to begin the 2016 short legislative session. Several items are worth noting as the session gets underway:
Medicaid reform: As the work to reform the state’s Medicaid program continues, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) remains steadfast in advocating for sensible regulation of the program through Chapter 58 provisions. HB 967, Prepaid Health Plan Licensing by DOI, addresses this issue. HB 968, Medicaid Transformation Reporting, focuses on reporting requirements to the legislature by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the new Department of Health Benefits. The recently released federal rule on Medicaid managed care will likely influence any state action in this area as well. [See story on the federal rule in this issue of the Bulletin.]
Opioid prescribing: The much publicized opioid abuse problem in North Carolina and nationally has prompted legislators to look more closely at prescribing practices and ways to stem what has been called an epidemic of opioid abuse and deaths from overdose. Legislation has already been introduced (SB 734, Statewide Standing Order/Opioid Antagonist) for a standing statewide order allowing anyone access to naloxone, the opioid antagonist used in the case of overdose. Legislators also currently are contemplating legislation to make enrollment in and/or use of the state’s Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS) mandatory.
The Governor’s 2016-17 Budget Proposal: Governor Pat McCrory announced his $22.3 billion proposed budget plan on April 22, and it reflects a 2.8 percent increase in total state spending. The major highlights for NCMS members include: No cuts to Medicaid rates are proposed. Funding for Medicaid is flat, although there $1 million in additional funds provided for Medicaid reform over the 2015-16 $5 million appropriation. Additional funds also are allotted for implementation of the Governor’s Task Force for Mental Health and Substance Use recommendations, including $9 million to address opioid addiction and substance abuse. The Governor budgets $2.5 million to expand Medicaid services for people with developmental disabilities through additional Medicaid Innovations Waiver slots. And he allocates $750,000 to respond to the Zika virus threat. Read McCrory’s proposal.
To hear the latest on these and other legislative issues directly from NCMS Director of Legislative Relations Chip Baggett, watch last Friday’s Bowtie Briefing. The 2015 NCMS Legislative Summary with details on the important bills introduced and adopted during last year’s long session is posted on the NCMS website. Download it.