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Advocacy in Action May 24, 2019

Posted By Jennifer Gill, Friday, May 24, 2019
Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2019

May 24, 2019

North Carolina House Approves Budget Proposal; Senate Plan Expected Soon
The House approved its $23.9 billion budget proposal (HB 966 – 2019 Appropriations Act) earlier this month and sent it on to the Senate which is expected to release its own budget plan soon. A conference committee of House and Senate members will be charged with ironing out the differences in the two documents, hopefully in time for final approval of the budget before the current fiscal year ends June 30.

A Quick Recap of Where We’re at with Key Legislative Items

S 646 - Certificate of Need Reform and Medicare-certified Home Health: This is a small step forward in CON reform, but a large step in helping control healthcare costs for NC citizens. In addition to other CON reforms, this bill would exempt continuing care retirement communities from the need determination process for Medicare-certified home health. This has been one of the Association's key public policy priorities for the past five years. The controversy over Certificate of Need healthcare regulations is a perennial one at the legislature, but Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, said May 15 at a press conference with fellow House and Senate Republicans who want to repeal or scale back CON regulations that, "I predict there will be large movements in CON laws in this session." According to the State Medical Facilities 2020 plan, it would only affect two-tenths of one percent of the total population that would receive home health care in 2020…but it’s so important to North Carolina seniors who live in our state’s nonprofit continuing care retirement communities (a group of communities that has an estimated $2 billion impact on the state’s economy each year).

HB 410Require Generators in Nursing Homes and Adult Care Homes: This bill was amended from what was originally introduced to create the House Select Committee on Emergency Electrical Service for Nursing & Adult Care Homes. The Committee is to study the feasibility of requiring all nursing homes, combination homes, and adult care homes, to provide emergency electrical service for use in the event of failure of the normal electrical service. The legislation would require the Committee to report its findings and recommendations to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services no later than March 1, 2020. The bill passed the House and is in the Senate Rules Committee.

Special Care Unit Moratorium: The budget plan approved by the House includes a provision extending the moratorium on special care units until June 30, 2021. There are some exceptions to this moratorium contained within the legislation.

HB 708 – Legislative Research Commission –  Study Affordable Housing: This bill directs the legislative research commission to study the availability of affordable housing in North Carolina. The LRC is to report its findings, together with any proposed legislation, to the 2020 Regular Session of the 2019 General Assembly upon its convening. The bill passed the House and is in Senate Rules Committee.

HB 724 – Truth in Caller ID Act: This bill would prohibit the use of misleading telephone identification methods for telephone solicitations by voice or text. The practice, known as "spoofing" or "cloning," is commonly used by scammers posing as tax collectors or kidnappers.  Even some legitimate telemarketers often use what's called "neighbor spoofing" to make their calls or texts appear to be coming from local numbers. Under this bill (which passed the House unanimously and is now in the Senate Rules Committee), telemarketers who use misleading information to hide the origin of their calls could be sued by a citizen or fined from $500 to $5,000 by the state attorney general. 

Revenue Surplus: Much of the surge in North Carolina income tax collections this spring cannot be counted on to repeat in 2020 and 2021, state government economists said on May 14. That could limit options on further spending or tax breaks in the upcoming two-year budget.  An updated examination of April tax collections by legislative staff and Gov. Roy Cooper's budget office forecasts a $643 million surplus for the year ending June 30, according to separate memos from the executive and legislative branches. That's 2.7% above what was anticipated last summer when the current-year state budget was finalized. The figure is slightly below the $700 million the legislature's top economist, Barry Boardman, said earlier this month was possible when all April collections were examined. But it still marks the largest state government surplus since the Great Recession, and a surplus for the fifth consecutive year.  In February, state economists projected a $151 million surplus this year, but it grew because individual income tax payments in April were 46% higher compared to last year.  (Gary D. Robertson, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 5/14/19)

State of Washington Leads the Way in Innovative Approach to LTSS Funding
John O’Connor, McKnight’s editorial director, offers his take on Washington state’s innovative new program to help pay for long-term care expenses for individual consumers.

Time to Comment on DOL Overtime Proposed Rule
May 21
 is the deadline for nonprofits, employees, for-profit businesses, and interest groups to provide real-world context to the Department of Labor (DOL) about proposed changes to the overtime rules. In March, the Labor Department proposed, among other things, adjusting the minimum salary level that exempts white-collar employees from overtime pay by raising the threshold to $679 per week ($35,308 per year) from the current level of $455 per week ($23,660 per year) set 15 years ago. The salary level is one step of a three-part test for determining whether a person is properly treated as an executiveadministrative, or professional worker, and thus exempt from overtime pay. Learn more about what’s being proposed by reading this brief abridged version of the draft regulations and the Council of Nonprofits’ updated analysis.

LeadingAge National's Bill Tracker
LeadingAge national’s Regulatory Roundup 2.0, is a quick and easy tracker to help members find pertinent rules and federal regulations, with timelines for submitting comments and links to any comments LeadingAge may have submitted.

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