United States: North Carolina General Assembly Week In Review: Health Care Spotlight

ICYMI, POLITICAL NEWS

Not Running

On Thursday, after six terms serving in the House, Rep. James H. Langdon (R-Johnston) announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2016. Following his announcement, two Republicans announced their intentions to run for the District 28 seat- Johnston County School Board Chairman Larry Strickland and Johnston County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tony Braswell. Rep. Langdon is the second lawmaker from Johnston County to announce that he would not be running again. Republican Rep. Leo Daughtry announced earlier this month that he would not be running, either.

Signed

This week Governor McCrory signed H318, Protect NC Workers Act, into law. H318 requires companies doing business with public entities to comply with the E-Verify program, ends the adoption of local government sanctuary city ordinances, forbids the use of certain consulate or embassy documents to determine a person's identification or residency for government and law enforcement purposes, and prohibits the Department of Health & Human Services from seeking certain waivers.

Last Friday Governor McCrory signed H765, Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, into law. H765 makes various administrative changes, including but not limited to exempting small business entities buying or selling entity-owned property, amending the definition of "employee" under the Workers' Compensation Act to exclude volunteers and officers of certain nonprofits, directing the Environmental Review Commission to study open and fair competition with respect to materials used in wastewater, stormwater, and other water projects, amending the definition for "prospective developer" under brownfields redevelopments, and other changes dealing with eliminating certain statutes and regulations and modernizing or simplifying regulations.

Deadline Approaching

Gov. McCrory has until 11:59 p.m. tonight to either sign or veto the 11 remaining bills on his desk. If he does not sign or veto any of the remaining legislation, it will automatically become law without his signature. If Gov. McCrory chooses to veto any of the bills, he will have to call the legislature back for a veto-override special session.

SPOTLIGHT ON HEALTH CARE

During the past several years, health care policy has played a major role during the legislative sessions. The 2015 legislative session was no different. A common goal of both the legislature and Governor McCrory over the past three years was to figure out how to best transition the state's Medicaid program from fee-for-service to a fully capitated system. After debating several versions this year alone, an agreement finally came to fruition.

Every single health care related bill that became law this year passed on a bi-partisan basis, ranging from changes to the certificate-of-need laws to outlawing the use of tanning beds for persons under the age of 18 years old.

Amend CBD Oil Statute
This amends the exemption for the use or possession of hemp extract, which was originally passed during the 2013-2014 biennium. It permits the use of hemp extract as an alternative treatment for intractable epilepsy without participating in a pilot study, and repeals the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act in 2021.

Amend Composition of NC Medical Board
This legislation adds a permanent seat to the NC Medical Board for both one physician assistant (PAs) and one nurse practitioner, increasing the Board membership from 12 to 13. Previously, the PAs and NPs shared one seat on the NC Medical Board. The bill became immediately effective upon signature.

Appropriations Act of 2015
The following policies were included in the budget:

  • Establishes a successor Health Information Exchange (HIE) Network and requires all Medicaid providers to be connected by February 1, 2018. The budget also establishes a state-controlled HIE Authority to oversee the Network, and establishes an advisory board to provide consultation to the Authority.
  • Requires hospitals to publicly post how much charity care they provide each year.
  • Raises the age limit for receiving foster care services to 21.
  • Includes funds for improvements to the medical examiner system.
  • Requires all health care provider occupation licensing boards, such as the NC Medical Board, to require continuing education on controlled substances abuse. The budget also establishes a Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee to establish and implement a statewide strategic plan to combat prescription drug abuse.
  • Increases funding for inpatient psychiatric beds, in order to combat the growing shortages of such beds.
  • Terminates all state appropriations for alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers (ADATCs), and instead appropriates those funds to DHHS in order to allow LME/MCOs to assume those responsibilities of the ADATCs.

Assault Emergency Workers/Hospital Personnel
Under this law, it will now be felony to assault healthcare providers or hospital personnel who are providing or attempting to provide services in a hospital. The bill goes into effect on December 1, 2015 and applies all offenses committee on or after that date.

Baby Carlie Nugent Bill
The Baby Carlie Nugent bill directs the Commission for Public Health to adopt rules and add a screening test for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCIDs) and other t-cell lymphopenias to the Newborn Screening Program. The bill became effective when it became law.

End Marketing/Sale Unborn Children Body Parts
In response to the Planned Parenthood videos that surfaced this summer, this bill now prohibits the sale of any aborted or miscarried material or remains of an unborn child. Additionally, this bill requires informed consent for the donation of the remains of an unborn child, and limits the use state funds for contracts pertaining to teen pregnancy prevention initiatives and programs.

Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act
This bill, named after former Wake County Representative Dr. Jim Fulghum, prohibits any person under the age of 18 from using tanning equipment.

Medicaid Transformation & Reorganization
After several years of debate on how to best reform the state's Medicaid system, the final version of Medicaid reform became law on September 23, 2015. Both provider-led entities (PLEs) and managed care organizations (MCOs) will be responsible for the delivery of capitated contracts on a statewide and regional basis. PLEs will serve patients in regions. The new Dept. of Health Benefits is responsible for dividing the state into six regions. Both PLEs and MCOs will be able to compete for the three statewide contracts, which will be responsible for serving patients statewide.

Legacy Medical Care Facility/CON Exempt
This bill exempts health care facilities that meet the definition of a "legacy medical care facility" from CON regulation under specified circumstances. This bill will become effective as soon as Gov. McCrory signs it into law, it is one of the 11 bills left on his desk.

Right to Try Act for Terminally Ill Patients
This bill enacts a Right to Try Act in order to provide expanded access to investigational drugs, biological products, and devices for patients diagnosed with a terminal illness. Gov. McCrory signed this bill into law in June, and it became effective on October 1, 2015.

LEGISLATION TO WATCH FOR IN 2016

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