Friday, May 1, 2009

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

Weekly Legislative Wrap-Up 05/01/09

Committee Meetings:

House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee:
This committee met on Tuesday and Thursday of this week to hear reports on the merger of More at Four into Smart Start.
On Tuesday Dick Clifford with Frank Porter Graham presented on More and Four and the proposed transfer of More at Four and the merger with Smart Start. Mr. Clifford’s message to the members was to fully analyze the benefits of both programs prior to the merger. He stressed that there is strong data to support the effectiveness of More at Four. Members of the committee also received a report from Tara Larson on the progress of the screening tool for long term care facilities. Tara Larson reviewed the delay in implementing MUST due to technical issues, and the need to continue to partner with providers and their individual billing and IT systems prior to full start up. Ms. Larson did state that this work is continuing and that a standard tool will be effective. She addressed the work that the workgroup is doing on merging screening tools used currently such as SIS with the new screening tool PASAR.

House Health:
On Tuesday, House Bill 1339- DHHS Study/Medical Provider Rates was heard in committee. This bill will direct theDepartment of Health and Human Services to conduct a study of provider medical rates to determine the equity of existing rates among providers. The study would focus on the cost of providing services, capital costs, and medical malpractice insurance and a review of medical providers for a stand-alone payment method, including the consideration of a private consultant to perform the rate-setting process. The report is due back to Senate and House HHS Appropriations no later than October 1, 2009.
The bill received a favorable report and was re-referred to the committee on Appropriations.

House Judiciary I:
House Bill 925-Data Sharing/DHHS Agencies. This bill will authorize the sharing of confidential information among agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services in order to conduct quality assessment and improvement activities and coordinate appropriation and effective care, treatment, or habilitation of DHHS clients. This bill received a favorable report when it was debated in the House Health Committee. This is the final committee for this bill prior to heading to the House floor.
This bill received a favorable report and was calendared for a full House vote on Wednesday. This bill passed the House with a vote of 115 in favor and none opposed.

This week the House Appropriations Committee held a unique public forum to receive input from the citizens of North Carolina regarding the state budget. The members and leaders of the House held this public hearing in Wake County and at ten satellite sites across the state.
Many of the comments that were given focused on the merger of More at Four and SmartStart. There were multiple comments on not cutting any funding for people with developmental disabilities, substance abuse, and mental health needs.

Bills To Watch This Week:

Two bills of interest will be taken up on Tuesday, May 5th in the House.

House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee:
On Tuesday the House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will meet at 8:30am in room 643 LOB. There is no announcement regarding the agenda for this meeting.

House Health Committee:
Also on Tuesday, the House Health committee will meet to hear ten different bills. Of interest are the two proposed bills that address smoking in foster care homes.
The first bill is House Bill 692: Establish Policy/Smoking/Foster Care-Cotham

This bill will require the county Departments of Social Services to develop policies on how to address the issue of foster parents who smoke.
The second bill is House Joint Resolution 694: Study/Smoking Ban/Foster Care Homes-Cotham.
This joint resolution would authorize the Legislative Research Commission to study the impact of a smoking ban in foster care homes.

Two bills of interest will be taken up Wednesday, May 6th in the Senate.

Senate Health Care Committee:
This committee will take up Senate Bill 331: MH/National Accred. Benchmarks-Berger.
This bill will make changes to the national accreditation benchmark requirements for certain Medicaid enrolled facilities.

Senate Mental Health and Youth Services:
This committee will take up Senate Bill 721: Allow Electronic Supervision/MH/DD Facilities-Hoyle.
This bill will require the Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services to adopt rules establishing acceptable electronic supervision standards and alternate staffing requirements at facilities for children and adolescents with mental illness or developmental disabilities during client sleep hours.

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