Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly, the Senate passed its version of the two-year state budget bill. The governor previously released his budget proposal; see details on our blog. The NC House plans to spend the next two weeks working on its version of the budget before differences in the two versions must be sorted out in conference committee. The NC General Assembly hopes to have the budget process wrapped up by the end of June to end the legislative session in early July. The NC Senate’s budget is similar to the budget of the previous two years with small targeted increases in disability services, reductions to LME fund balances/single-stream funds, and some additional education spending as well as decreases.
Action: Contact Your NC House Representative
We need you to advocate with NC House members in the General Assembly to add funds, especially for the nearly 12,000 people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities – including autism – on waiting lists for services and the restoration of funding for people with no other access to help.
Please call or email the chairs of the NC General Assembly Appropriations Committees tasked with addressing health and human services. (See list below.) Ask them to support more funding for autism services.
Details on the Senate Budget
Given North Carolina’s positive fiscal health, disability advocates had hoped the NC Senate would make larger investments in delivering services to the nearly 12,000 people on waiting lists. Funds are also needed to manage IDD crisis situations and restore funding to LME/MCOs to provide services to individuals without other health coverage or who are waiting for services. In addition, with the release of last year’s audit on school funding disparities, we had hoped the budget would start to address unequal funding for special education.
The short list of NC Senate budget items are:
- Funding for 500 Medicaid Innovations waiver slots for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD), funds 250 slots per year of the budget.
- Various increases totaling $35 million in year one and $15 million in year two for various crisis services; services directed at individuals with complex needs such as those diagnosed with autism, mental illness, and behavior challenges; and inpatient behavioral beds across the state.
- Cuts, recurring and nonrecurring, totaling $68 million in the first year and $100 million in the second year to single-stream funds that go to LME/MCOs to provide services to those without health-care coverage and those waiting for services.*
- After accounting for the increase to the Medicaid rebase (funds needed to continue serving eligible people with current service array), the Senate budget reduces overall funding to the NC Division of Medical Assistance/Medicaid program of $82 million per year.
*Please note that cuts to single-stream funds have taken place every year over the last 4-8 years. There is a complicated funding relationship with single-stream, Medicaid, and other funds available to the LME/MCOs for services. Some funds have been replaced by the General Assembly or with LME/MCO fund balances, but over time, hundreds of millions of dollars that should be used for people needing developmental, behavioral, mental health and addiction services who are on waiting lists for help have been removed from the system. With reductions to LME/MCOs’ funds, LME/MCOs cannot plan to expand much-needed services and have already indicated there will be cuts to existing services.
How to Speak Out
Here are some talking points to use when you call or email the chairs of the General Assembly Appropriations Committees tasked with addressing health and human services:
- Let them know you are a family member, an autism self-advocate, or a person who cares for someone on the autism spectrum.
- If you have services, tell them how those services are helping. If you are waiting for services, briefly tell them what it would mean for you to have help or what you hope will happen in the future.
- Ask them to fund better services and supports, such as funds for 2,000 Innovations IDD waiver slots to address the 8- to 10-year wait for services and crisis care for both adults and children with IDD, including autism. Ask them to restore all of the $155 million cut from funding for local developmental disability, mental health, and addiction services through the LME/MCOs. Funding needs to be directed to local gaps in services including for people on waitlists or who would not otherwise qualify for help.
Who to contact in the General Assembly:
- William Brisson, 919-733-5772 William.Brisson@ncleg.net
- Josh Dobson, 919-733-5862 Josh.Dobson@ncleg.net
- Chris Malone, 919-715-3010 Chris.Malone@ncleg.net
- Gregory Murphy, 919-733-5757 Gregory.Murphy@ncleg.net
- Nelson Dollar, 919-715-0795 Nelson.Dollar@ncleg.net
- Donny Lambeth, 919-733-5747 Donny.Lambeth@ncleg.net
For the full budget report, go to www.ncleg.net. DHHS items begin on page 86 of the Senate budget bill. The “Bill Text” shows the full budget legislation, including the “special provisions,” which provide policy direction on how various funds are to be spent. The Committee Report, also known as the “money report,” shows funds added or removed from various government agencies and services; health and human services are in section G1.
Note: This week’s update and alert was prepared by ASNC Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Mahan, and is focused on North Carolina’s budget. ASNC continues to monitor both state and federal policy issues. Please email email@example.com or call 919-865-5068 for questions regarding this or other public policy issues.
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