Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Quick Hits: National Hot Policy Topics for This Week

This information provided by DPC:

U.S. Congress

The Congress returns to work tomorrow.
  There are about three and a half weeks remaining before a Christmas break is scheduled.  Passage of a health care reform bill in the Senate and continued work on the remaining Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bills will dominate the House and Senate agendas in December.
Health Reform
The Senate returns this week to begin debating the health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Currently the bill includes the following provisions which are of major importance to people with disabilities:
  • Major insurance market reforms including elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions and annual and lifetime caps;
  • Coverage of rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices in the essential benefits package for the new insurance Exchange;
  • An expansion of Medicaid eligibility up to 133% of the federal poverty level;
  • The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act which will establish a new nation wide long term services insurance program that will help individuals and their families meet their needs without needing to be impoverished;
  • The Community First Choice (CFC) Medicaid option which will make comprehensive community-based services available to Medicaid beneficiaries in states which choose the option (it would begin on Oct 1, 2010 with no sunset date); and
  • A requirement for the development of standards for accessible diagnostic and other medical equipment.
It is expected that a number of issues will be vigorously debated, including the overall cost of the bill and the role of a public program as an alternative to private health care coverage.  While debate may continue through most of December, Senate Democratic leaders hope to complete work on the bill before the Christmas recess.  It is unclear at this time whether the Democratic leadership has the votes necessary to pass the bill or to amend it in ways to garner the 60 votes necessary for passage.  The House passed its version of health care reform on November 7.

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

This week is a busy one at the General Assembly. The tax reform debate heats up again on Tuesday with more presentations on the direction that North Carolina may take to increase revenues in our state. This meeting comes on the heels of national news reporting that we may be slowly recovering from the Great Recession.

This committee will also be closely watching the holiday shopping trends to see if there is a spike in sales tax collection or a dip. Read more here.

Also this week the NC Council of Community Programs will be holding its conference to discuss the major effects of the current budget on community based programs for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and addictive disorders. We will be attending the conference and will report any information regarding the state cuts.

Schedule for this week at the General Assembly:
Mon, November 30, 2009
10:00 AM
Children and Youth, Legislative Study Commission on

415 LOB

Tue, December 1, 2009
10:00 AM
Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery Study Commission

544 LOB
10:00 AM
Interim Joint Finance Committee Meeting on Tax Reform

643 LOB

Wed, December 2, 2009
9:00 AM
Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Health Plan

1228/1327 LB
9:30 AM
Corrections, Crime Control, and Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee, Joint Legislative

643 LOB
1:00 PM
Urban Growth and Infrastructure Issues Study

544 LOB
Later this week:
National: The Senate will begin again the debate on health reform legislation. It does not look like we will see a vote any time soon.

International: December 3, 2009 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Holiday

We at The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving holiday! We will not be updating this blog again until after the holiday. 

Hill Report: Senate Introduces Bill on Intellectual Disability Terminology

Intellectual Disability Terminology
On Tuesday, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) introduced "Rosa's Law"(S. 2781) a bipartisan bill to substitute outdated, stigmatizing terms in federal health, education and labor laws.  The terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" would be substituted with the terms "intellectual disability" and "individual with an intellectual disability."  The change in terminology would in no way alter the eligibility requirements for services and supports.  Click here to read Senator Mikulski's statement to the U.S. Senate upon introduction of the bill.

Thanks to DPC for this update.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hill Report: Senate Begins Debate on Health Reform Bill

On Saturday the US Senate managed to get the needed 60 votes to begin the debate on their Health Care Reform bill.

No one is expecting a final vote on the bill before the Thanksgiving holiday.  The CLASS Act did make it to the final product in both the Senate and the House bills.

Here is the comparison of the two bills.

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

This week there are no meetings scheduled at the General Assembly. The General Assembly will get back to its busy interim schedule right after the Thanksgiving Break.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

National Reports: First Study on Crime Against People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics has released the first special report looking at the prevalence of violent crime against people with disabilities.  

Here are some of the findings from the report:

Persons age 12 or older with disabilities experienced 
approximately 716,000 nonfatal violent crimes and 2.3 mil- 
lion property crimes in 2007 as measured by the National 
Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Nonfatal violent 
crimes include rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated 
assault, and simple assault. Property crimes include 
household burglary, motor vehicle theft, and property theft.* 
About one third (34%) of the crimes against persons with or 
without a disability in 2007 were serious violent crimes 
(rape/sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault). Per- 
sons with disabilities were victims of about 47,000 rapes, 
79,000 robberies, 114,000 aggravated assaults, and 
476,000 simple assaults. 

• Age-adjusted rate of nonfatal violent crime against 
persons with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the 
rate for persons without disabilities. 
• Persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of 
rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate 
for persons without a disability. 
• Females with a disability had a higher victimization rate 
than males with a disability; males had a higher rate 
than females among those without a disability. 
• Persons with a cognitive functioning disability had a 
higher risk of violent victimization than persons with any 
other type of disability. 
• Persons with more than one type of disability accounted 
for about 56% of all violent crime victimizations against 
those with any disability.

Read the report here: Bureau of Statistics.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NCGA: Legislative News-Senator Nesbitt New Majority Leader

Today the Senate Democratic Caucus unanimously elected Senator Martin Nesbitt as their new Majority Leader. Senator Nesbitt will fill the position most recently held by Senator Tony Rand. Senator Rand announced recently that he would be accepting the position of chairman of the state Post-release Supervision and Parole Commission.

Senator Nesbitt is the chairman of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

Read more about the vote today on WRAL.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NC News: Recent News On the Cuts to Medicaid/and MH DD SAS

We are now three months into the new state budget and the severity of the cuts for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and addictive disorders is being felt in every corner of the state. The reality is that the cuts to state funded services compounded with the cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates has created the perfect storm of lost services and lost jobs.

Here is a sample of some of those articles:

Winston Salem Journal: Many Fear Health Cuts

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

This week we are looking at a very busy schedule for the General Assembly.  There is a full schedule of committee and commission meetings and on Tuesday the Senate Democratic Caucus will elect its new Majority Leader.  Last week Senate Pro Tempore Marc Basnight sent out a letter to caucus members asking for their support of Senator Martin Nesbitt.  We will let you know if the caucus follows that request.

Until then here is the upcoming schedule:

Mon, November 16, 2009
3:00 PM Domestic Violence, Joint Legislative Committee 544 LOB

Tue, November 17, 2009
9:30 AM Joint Interim House and Senate Finance Committees on Tax Reform 643 LOB

10:00 AM Transportation Oversight Committee, Joint Legislative  1228/1327 LB

1:00 PM Gov Ops Subcommittee-Education/Health and Human Services 421 LOB

Wed, November 18, 2009
9:00 AM  State Health Plan Blue Ribbon Task Force  1228/1327 LB

9:00 AM Joint Legislative Study Committee on State Funded Student Financial Aid  421 LOB

11:00 AM Governmental Operations, Joint Legislative Commission on  643 LOB

1:00 PM Joint Legislative Joining Our Businesses and Schools (JOBS) Study Commission - Williamston, NC

Thu, November 19, 2009
10:00 AM  Children and Youth, Legislative Study Commission on  415 LOB

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NCGA: Update Joint Legislative Oversight Committee MH/DD/SAS

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse services met this week.
It is becoming more clear to the committee members that the cuts to this budget are extremely significant and that community based services are struggling to continue to serve the most needy in our state.

In response to the 40 million dollar cut to state funded services that the LMEs are trying to manage Senate Martin Nesbitt stated that "we can not sugar coat what is happening out there. We did a bad deed and we cut them (LMEs) too much." "After all the meetings they had they still can't serve folks. Our first order of business is to tell our fellow members that we need to fix this. When you make a mistake and we made a mistake we need to fix it."

This 40 million dollar cut is in addition to a 16 million dollar cut to state funded services directed toward people who are also receiving CAP/MR-DD waiver services.

The committee members listened to numerous reports on how the LMEs are managing their budget reductions, how the budget reduction is affecting people with CAP/MR-DD waiver services that were also receiving state funded dollars for ADVP or support services, and finally they heard about the changes to case management.

It is clear to the members that the cuts in the current budget are quickly dismantling the community based delivery system for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addictive disorders.

It was also alluded to during this meeting that next years overall general fund will face a growing deficit. It is therefore the goal and the responsibility of the committee members to ensure that MH/DD/SAS receive very few additional cuts.  The top priority for this committee is to educate their peers on the importance of restoring as much funding to these services as possible or face a collapse in the system.

Monday, November 9, 2009

NCGA: Joint Legislative Oversight Committee Meeting MH/DD/SAS Agenda

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee will be meeting tomorrow at 10AM. Here is the agenda:

Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on
Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, & Substance Abuse Services
November 10, 2009; 10:00 A.M.; Room 643, Legislative Office Building
Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair Presiding

I. Welcome and Chair's Opening Comments
• Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair
• Senator Martin Nesbitt, Co-Chair 10:00

II. Secretary's Remarks
• Lanier Cansler, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services 10:00-10:30

III. Local Management Entities: Update on Service Funds Reductions
• DHHS Perspective: Michael Watson, Assistant Secretary for MH/DD/SAS Development
• LME Perspective: W. Rhett Melton, Director of Pathways LME (serving Gaston, Cleveland, and Lincoln) 10:30-11:00

IV. Funding for Former Thomas S. Class Members
• Leza Wainwright, Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS 11:00-11:30

V. Changes in Funding for CAP-MR/DD Recipients
• Leza Wainwright, Director, Division of MH/DD/SAS 11:30-12:00
LUNCH 12:00-1:00

VI. Community Support Services
• Curtis Venable, Pisgah Legal Services 1:00-1:15

VII. Report on Consumer and Family Advisory Committees
• Kathy Crocker, State Consumer and Family Advisory Committee 1:15-1:45

VIII. Update on State Psychiatric Hospitals
• Luckey Welsh, Director, Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities 1:45-2:15

IX. Report on Local Inpatient Psychiatric Community Hospital Contracts
• Michael Watson, Assistant Secretary for MH/DD/SAS Development 2:15-2:45

X. Case Management Follow-up
• Tara Larson, Chief Clinical Operating Officer, DMA 2:45-3:30

XI. Final Remarks & Adjournment 3:30-3:45

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

The following meetings will take place this week at the General Assembly. If you are interested in attending the "big ticket" event this week, then head over to the Joint House and Senate Finance Committee meeting on modernizing the state tax code.

Taxes and revenue adjustment were the buzz words throughout the last session. The House and Senate each introduced their tax package. Most of the time they were worlds apart. The calling of the Joint House and Senate Finance committee during the interim is to work out the differences so that there is one bill going into the short session.

We will be monitoring this committee's work.

Schedule for the week:
Mon, November 2, 2009
1:00 PM
Perinatal Committee of the Child Fatality Task Force

1027/1128 LB

Tue, November 3, 2009
10:00 AM
House and Senate Finance Committees on Tax Reform

643 LOB

Wed, November 4, 2009
10:00 AM
Justus-Warren - Legislation and Resource Development

1027/1128 LB
10:00 AM
Justus Warren Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention - Prevention

1124/1224 LB
10:00 AM
Justus-Warren Heart Disease & Strok Prevention - Management

1228/1327 LB
10:00 AM
Justus Warren Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention - Public Awareness

1425 LB
1:00 PM
Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force

1027/1128 LB

Thu, November 5, 2009
9:00 AM
Urban Growth and Infrastructure Issues

544 LOB
1:00 PM
Public Health Study Commission

643 LOB