What happened at the Legislature this session? ASNC Budget Wrap Up Report

Photo credit to Mr. T in DC via Flickr.com

Editor’s Note – The following article was written by Jennifer Mahan, the Autism Society of North Carolina’s Director of Government Relations.

During the General Assembly “short” legislative session that lasted from May 16 to July 3rd, state legislators made small changes to the second year of the two-year state budget they put into place last year. So, what changed?

The legislature:

• Funded Medicaid cost over runs for the current year (2011-2012) and added more funds to Medicaid to cover possible cost increases for 2012-2013.

• Increased funding for education, including teachers’ raises of 1.5% and $27 million for new education reforms, mostly focused on improving early grade reading skills. A loss of Federal funds and larger cuts in state funds in the second year of the budget means more cuts for local schools.

• Continued the $20 million dollar cut to state funded services (IPRS) for developmental disabilities, mental health and addiction, but did not require local management entities to use fund balances to cover the cuts as they did last year. It is likely that this cut will reduce availability of supports like developmental therapies and respite.

• Cut Medicaid personal care services by $6 million and changed the eligibility criteria. Because the changes are new, and the legislative language confusing, no one is sure how many people will lose personal care services.

• Added $1.7 million to Medicaid due to delays in some local management entities (LMEs) converting to the new 1915 b/c managed care waivers, while cutting $8 million from LME administrative budgets. The $8 million reduction is in anticipation of  savings from the conversion from a network of LMEs to MCOs. Legislators did not make changes to the waiver bill they passed last year or to the final timeline for implementation which remains June 30, 2013.

• Created a new “Transitions to Community Living” fund and oversight committee. The fund will help people with mental illness move out of adult care homes and into community housing, while also assisting adult care homes who may lose funding from Medicaid in the process. The new Transitions oversight committee will also look at the issue of housing and community living for people with developmental disabilities.

If you would like to see the entire budget, H 850 (the budget adjustments act), the Committee report for H 850 (i.e. the money report) and S 187 (the budget modifications/corrections bill) go to the General Assembly Website at www.ncleg.net. For a more detailed summary of legislative action that impacts people with on the autism spectrum and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, please read ASNC’s 2012 legislative summary.

Questions? Please use the comment feature or email Jennifer Mahan at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org.

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