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Public Policy Update

No progress on State Budget from House members

State Budget Update: The NC House budget is now not expected until late July or early August. House budget leaders are sorting out the implications of billions in federal funding and its impact on the state budget. Some federal funding, like that for health and human services, including the state’s Medicaid programs, cannot supplant existing state dollars and must be used for specific purposes. Millions in infrastructure funds are to be distributed as well. This has contributed to the delayed release.

Reminders:

  • The NC Senate passed SB 105, their version of the state budget bill, on Friday June 25. Read our blog entry on SB 105.
  • This year‚Äôs budget contains a mix of state appropriations and allocations of federal funding that has come to North Carolina through several ‚Äúrecovery act‚ÄĚ bills.
  • The House and Senate will have to reconcile differences between their budget bills though the conference committee report before sending the final budget to the Governor.

 

Up-to-date Budget legislation, special provisions, and committee reports can be found on the NC General Assembly‚Äôs home page in the left column. (Note: The budget is divided into two documents: 1) the budget bill itself, which includes the language of the ‚Äúspecial provisions‚ÄĚ that provide guidance on how funding is to be used and dictates additional policy changes and 2) the committee report, often called the ‚Äúmoney report,‚ÄĚ which provides some detail on spending increases and decreases in each budget area.)

 

State Government Updates

NC DHHS releases FMAP proposal: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has submitted its proposed ‚ÄúNorth Carolina Spending Plan for the Implementation of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021‚ÄĚ to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). This plan outlines the ways NC DHHS hopes to spend millions in increased Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) dollars (increase from 73.85% to 83.85) and other funds the state is expected to receive for Medicaid on increasing access to home and community-based services. With the increase our state‚Äôs matching Medicaid dollars can be used to serve more individuals or increase provider rates, among other allowed uses. For this to happen, CMS will need to approve the state‚Äôs proposal and some items may also need NCGA legislative approval.

Included in the state’s proposal are: serving more people on the on the waitlist, increasing rates so that direct support professionals can be paid more, and extending Research Based Behavioral Health Treatments (RBBHT) to individuals with autism who are over the age of 21. (Currently RBBHT is only available to children and youth as part of the state’s Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services in our state Medicaid plan.)

Governor signs Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill: Governor Cooper signed House Bill 642 into law on July 1. It will prevent people with disabilities from being discriminated against during the organ transplant process and will go into effect October 1st of this year. The bill received unanimous support across both chambers of the General Assembly throughout the legislative process.

 

Your Voice is Needed – Take Action!

While we are pleased that legislators are starting to recognize the need to address the 15,500 people on the waiting list (registry of unmet needs) for services, the 1,000 new slots proposed in the NC Senate budget is not enough to address the growth of people on the list (currently about 750 people a year), let alone the 10+ year wait for services in some areas. Also, access to waivers must go hand in hand with competitive wages for direct care staff ‚Äď or there will be no one to provide the service.

Please contact House Budget Chairs (see below) and your House Legislator to advocate for the following budget priorities:

  • Add a minimum of 2,000 Innovations waiver slots and commit to fund additional services to address the registry of unmet needs.
  • Develop a ten-year plan to address the ten year or more wait for I/DD services.
  • Allocate at least $160 million in recurring funding to increase the wages of direct support staff across community services so the new waiver slots (and other services) have staffing.
  • Implement a program to address the lack of affordable health care for thousands of people in NC, including adults on the spectrum who do not qualify for tax credits or Medicaid.
  • Fund increases for special education and eliminate the artificial cap on special education funds to local school districts.
  • Prioritize other services and supports YOU need! (see our list of legislative targets here.

 

How can you share your voice?

  • Email or call your NCGA members! Prepare a short statement using our Advocacy Tips Sheet or Advocacy 101 Toolkit. BE BRIEF, BE RESPECTFUL.
    • Introduce yourself and how you are connected to autism.
    • Tell them your story of how having, or not having, services is affecting you.
    • Tell them about the importance of high-quality, consistent, caring staff.
  • Record a short video talking about #lifewithautism and #invisibleheroes and how access to services helps.
    • If you have services talk about the importance of high-quality, consistent, caring staff, an increase in waiver slots and support of other needed budget items (see above). If you do not have services, talk about what it would mean for you get them.
    • Post the video on your social media accounts and tag your NCGA elected officials.

 

The NCGA website will help you identify who represents you. Be sure to check the circles at the top of the map for ‚ÄúNC House‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúNC Senate‚ÄĚ to see who represents you in the NC General Assembly.

In addition to your own House member, please also contact the leaders of the House Budget listed below to advocate for better services, supports, and education for those on the autism spectrum.

 

Share your message with the following legislators:

Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairs (services, waivers, health care):

Representative Kristin Baker representing Cabarrus

Office Phone: 919-733-5861   Email:  Kristin.Baker@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Larry Potts representing Davidson

Office Phone: 919-715-0873   Email: Larry.Potts@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Wayne Sasser representing Stanly, Cabarrus, Rowan

Office Phone: 704-982-8003   Email:  Wayne.Sasser@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Donna White representing Johnson

Office Phone: 919-889-1239   Email: Donna.White@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Donny Lambeth representing Forsyth

Office Phone: 919-733-5747   Email:  Donny.Lambeth@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Jason Saine representing Lincoln

Office Phone: 919-733-5782   Email:  Jason.Saine@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Dean Arp representing Union

Office Phone: 704-282-0418   Email: Dean.Arp@ncleg.gov

 

Education Appropriations Chairs (schools, education funding):

Representative Jon Hardister representing Guilford

Office Phone: 919-733-5191 Email: Jon.Hardister@ncleg.gov

 

Representative Pat Hurley representing Randolph

Office Phone: 919-733-5865  Email: Pat.Hurley@ncleg.gov

 

Representative John Torbett representing Gaston

Office Phone: 919-733-5868 Email: John.Torbett@ncleg.gov

 

 

Please contact Jennifer Mahan, ASNC Director of Public Policy, jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org for assistance connecting with your elected officials and other questions about advocacy.

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