Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Wrap Up: Bills, Committee Reports, and Other legislative Stuff.

This was a very busy week at the General Assembly. First there was a Senate bill filing deadline and then there was Governor Bev Perdue's release of her first budget.  Here are the details of the week:

Committee Meetings:

Joint HHS Appropriations:
This weeks joint HHS appropriations began on Tuesday with a staff review of CCNC. Following the release of Governor Perdue’s budget this committees focused to a two day presentation by the Governor’s staff on the budget reductions and expansions.

House Health Committee:
HB 353: People First-Earle

The House Health committee had a hearing today on the People First Language bill. The bill was not voted on. The questions presented by committee members were the same that we have seen in other states where this legislation has been introduced. The main concern is protecting critical state and federal definitions on developmental disabilities. Even with all the questions there is political support for this legislation in our General Assembly.
Language for this bill will continue to be worked on by advocates and we will update you when the bill is up for a committee vote again.

Bills filed:
HB 600: Mental Health Services for Children/Kids’ Care
An act to ensure that all children in North Carolina who are eligible for health services under the NC Health Choice or NC Kids’ Care receive Mental Health Services, as recommended by the legislative study commission on children and youth.

HB 656: Mental Health Proceedings/No Restraint-Earle
An act to prohibit restraint of individuals who are minors being transported to or during hearing pursuant to involuntary commitment proceedings, except under certain circumstances.

HB 672: Accountability for State Funding/MHDDSA-Earle
An act to direct Local Management Entities to take certain steps before reducing or moving state funds for developmental disability services.

HB 673: Support for Developmental Disability Services-Earle
An act to direct the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, to take certain actions to improve supports for persons with developmental disabilities.

SB 602: Medicaid False Claims/Qui Tam Actions-Kinnaird
This legislation would strengthen the prosecution of Medicaid fraud by increasing existing criminal penalties for provider fraud and creating criminal penalties for obstruction and making false entries. This bill would establish a private civil action for provider false claims, authorizing a subpoena for documents in cases of provider fraud and abuse. Included in this bill is an appropriation from the General Fund to the Department of Justice for the implementation of this act.

SB 721: Allow Electronic Suprvsn./MH/DD Facilities-Hoyle

This bill would require the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services to adopt rules establishing an acceptable electronic supervision standard and alternate staffing requirements at facilities for children and adolescents with mental illness or developmental disabilities during client sleep hours.

Additional Legislative News:

The big news this week was the release of Governor Bev Perdue’s first budget. The result for the MH DD SA community was it could have been worse considering the difficult economic situation that our state is currently facing. The following programs were eliminated in the budget recommendations: closure of the Wright and Whittaker schools, closure of two 25 adult bed units at Cherry and Broughton and an elimination at Vocational Rehabilitation of basic support case services.
Governor Perdue’s budget did include an expansion of 111 community beds to
increase crisis services and local inpatient bed capacity. The appropriation for this item is $11,945,326 dollars in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. There is also an allocation of $3 million in fiscal year 2010 to create 36 new beds at Dorethea Dix to continue the downsizing of state psychiatric hospitals. Finally the Governor’s expansion budget includes and appropriation of $325,000 designated for training and workforce development initiatives in both fiscal year 2010 and 2011..

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