Bills, We Got Bills with a Capital B…

 

The Autism Society of North Carolina tracks bills that could impact people on the spectrum, including legislation about the budget, education, the developmental disability system and health care, among other issues. During the long legislative session, members of the North Carolina General Assembly introduce hundreds of bills; this session, new House rules that limit each House member to sponsoring ten bills will significantly reduce the number introduced, though it doesn’t seem that way when you are sorting through them daily.

Several bills have been introduced based on recommendations from the Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services and from the Institute of Medicine Study on Adult Care Homes. This year, due to the state’s budget deficit we are not likely to see any action on bills that require new money to implement, such as ones adding new programs, expanding existing programs, or requiring new training. Legislators are actively looking for ways to save money and reduce spending.  Lack of funds is not the only reason that we’ll see bills this session that study an issue;  introducing a study bill gives the legislature time and information to determine what, if any, action should be taken in the future. Below are summaries of some of the bills that could impact people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including several study bills.   North Carolina House bills are indicated with an “H” and Senate Bills with an “S” – if the bill has two bill numbers it has been introduced in both chambers.

H 75  S328  “Report on Transfer of CAP MR/DD UR to LMEs” asks for a report on the costs associated with transfer/delivery of utilization review and management to the four Local Management Entities as compared to a statewide vendor, the number who got UR/UM in year, and the accountability measures used.

H 76  S333  “Revise DD Waiting List Process” asks the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disability and Substance Abuse Services (MH/DD/SAS) to report on a revised waiting list process that would have an unduplicated research based count of children and adults waiting for state and federally funded services and an estimate of how many of them would be eligible for Community Alternatives Program (CAP) waiver services.

H 81  S 336  “Develop Plan for Allocating DD Resources” asks for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human  (NC DHHS) and the Division of MH/DD/SAS to report by July 1 on a plan for creating  “a comprehensive statewide plan for the fair and equitable allocation of resources for all individuals eligible for developmental disability services.” The plan must include a resource allocation model based on the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) or another valid tool for determining intensity of need, require independent assessment, include quality assurances, and a standardized formula for the use of the results of the assessment tool to determine eligibility and type of services needed. Nowhere does it ask for the developmental disability community, families, researchers, etc. for input on the development of this plan. Advocates are also concerned that the SIS was not intended for use as a resource allocation tool and should be only one part of determining a person centered plan for an individual.

H 82  S 336   “Funds for Step-Down Unit for BART Program”  asks  NC DHHS to identify and report on funding available to establish a step-down unit for BART.  The bill does not ask for a specific appropriation for the program. Individuals in BART need a specialized step down unit due to their unique needs and the reluctance of community programs to serve individuals with a history of aggressive behavior, despite how well they may be doing in the BART program. This step down unit could also serve as a community training opportunity to ensure that other community programs have the skills needed to serve individuals with aggressive behaviors.

H 85  “Evaluate DD Residential Options for Children” asks for a report on a review of current congregate residential options available for children birth to age 6, as well as an overview of all services available to this age group and after age 6. 

H 71 “Funds for Housing of Persons with Disabilities” requests funding for the Housing Trust Fund to continue to develop housing options for people with disabilities. This bill has come partly in response to Institute of Medicine report on adult care homes and to ongoing concerns about the lack of affordable housing options. It’s estimated that thousands with developmental disabilities, mental illness and dual diagnosis are living in adult or family care homes because supported independent housing options are not available.

H 104 “ACH Pilot on Crisis Intervention Training” requests a pilot program be developed to evaluate Crisis Intervention Training in adult care homes, to modify existing training for this setting and for direct care workers.

H 106 “Direct Care Worker Wage and Benefit Study” This is an aging study bill, but affects all direct care staff including those across the developmental disability system. The bill asked that a study be done to examine wages, benefits, and turnover and makes recommendations about training in order to increase the supply of and retention of direct care workers.

H 107   “GAST (Geriatric/Adult Mental Health Specialty Teams) Training Pilot” funds a pilot program that would use GAST to train staff in adult care homes in one LME region on prevention and de-escalation of crisis.

H 108  “DHHS Study of IOM Task Force Recommendation 3.1” asks NC DHHS to assess feasibility and develop an implementation timeline to transition adult care home residents with disabilities to independent community-based supported housing. The bill does not  fund housing, supportive services or rent subsidies needed to obtain and stay in housing.

These are just a few of the bills we are monitoring. As always, if you have questions about any of these bills, other legislation, or public policies impacting people on the spectrum, please post your question or email Jennifer Mahan, ASNC’s Director of Government Relations at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org.

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