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NC Medicaid Cuts Looming - Please ACT NOW! - June 12, 2009

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We *MAY* Have Done It!!!!

Services have been restored to the budget proposal, but we cannot rest until the votes are in and the budget has passed!

As you have probably heard by now, the North Carolina legislature and Governor's office has been contemplating an EIGHTY PERCENT cut in the children's Medicaid budget.

According to NCSHLA, the formula used for this program reduction would eliminate 80% of the budget for the Independent Practitioners Program in NC Medicaid that provides medically-necessary ST/OT/PT services for children Birth – 21 years old only.

During this past week, NCSHLA, NCAOTA, NCPTA and other groups have banded together to bombard the “Big Chairs” of the General Assembly and the North Carolina media with phone calls and letters letting them know how disastrous this plan would be for the children of North Carolina.

The very good news (but please don't stop being vigilant) is that on late Wednesday afternoon, June 10th, the Appropriations Subcommittee passed an amendment proposed Tuesday night by the Finance Committee to RESTORE ST/OT/PT services. This restoration was made possible by the Revenue Package that was passed in the House Finance Committee late on Tuesday evening. Furthermore, the Appropriations Subcommittee passed a motion to change the across the board rate reductions from the proposed 5.5% decrease to a 3% decrease.

The following is reprinted with expresss permission by from the NCSHLA website and was written by Jeri Bates, of the NCSHLA Professional Affairs Committee. We thank them for their communication with us.

WHAT COMES NEXT:
  • On Thursday, the full House will debate the proposed budget in full until 11:59 p.m.
  • At 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning, the House is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget in full. You can listen to all or a portion of these proceedings Thursday and Friday online at: http://www.ncleg.net
  • If the full House approves this budget, it will then proceed to the Conference Committee which is a combination of House and Senate leaders who will negotiate a combined budget for presentation to the Senate. Note: This can be a lengthy process; the thought from Raleigh is that either we will have a fully passed (signed by the Governor) budget by July 1 OR it could stay in the Conference Committee for months. (For Reference: In the year 2000, the last year with revenue increases, this Committee had the budget until October)
  • If they negotiate an agreed upon budget to present to the Senate, the Senate would then vote; if passed, it would go to the Governor for signature. Think positive!
  • If the House passes the proposed budget for our program as it currently stands (in line with the formerly proposed Senate budget), then our Line Item would not be ‘in contention’ with the former Senate bill 202, meaning that they would NOT be ‘negotiating’ our program budget at this point. It’s important that the House passes the proposed budget restoring funding for our services.

WHAT YOU DO TODAY:
  • Email Appropriations Subcommittee Member / Representative Randy Stewart at ( [email protected] ) individually and THANK him for sponsoring the motion to restore ST/OT/PT services in the Medicaid program. Randy is a PT and has been very supportive of our efforts!
  • Email the Appropriations Subcommittee for HHS and THANK THEM for supporting the motion to restore ST/OT/PT services in the House proposed budget. THANK THEM for recognizing the value of these services to all of NC’s citizens, particularly the disadvantaged and disabled!
  • You may copy and paste these email addresses ‘as is’ into the “To” section of your email to keep it simple, if each of you sends just one email to the ‘group’, then they will still receive hundreds upon hundreds of emails thanking them – and that’s important: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected];
  • Email your Local House Representatives and ask them to PLEASE VOTE YES to the proposed House budget that restores ST/OT/PT services in the NC Medicaid program. Tell them of a particular patient that this will help – keep it personal!


WHAT HAPPENS IF THE BUDGET DOESN’T PASS BY JUNE 30TH? (many of you have asked this question…)

The Division of Medical Assistance has 2 options if a State budget isn’t fully executed by the Governor:
  1. They can institute an ‘emergency rate reduction’ that typically would be the lowest proposed rate reduction for providers and implement that rate reduction effective July 1st; Currently, the lowest proposed rate reduction is approximately 3% (but this is not final). OR
  2. They can implement a ‘continuation amendment’ that would continue the provider rates and program benefits as they exist now for a period of 90 days, the period that CMS allows for approval of State Medicaid Plan/Rate Change Approvals.
  3. If this option is elected then DMA can recoup funds overpaid to providers during the 90 day period when the rate reduction is approved by CMS.


SO THEN WHAT?
  • The Rally scheduled for Monday, June 15th outside the Legislative Building is still on. SLPs, OTs, PTs please plan to attend – the mission is still ‘advocacy’ until the budget is passed, but won’t it be a more pleasant evening to be able to meet and THANK our Representatives and/or Senators and request their continued support of a budget that includes restoration of our programs? Please wear black and we’ll have name badges for everyone but I need a rough estimate of how many plan to attend. Carpool with other colleagues (parking can be difficult in downtown Raleigh) and please, if you are coming in groups, let me know how many plan to attend. We currently have 200 badges that say “Speech Therapist” and we would love the burden of making more if you plan to attend! Please see the http://www.togethernc.org website for more information. Your Professional Affairs Committee Team will be there……we look forward to meeting you all!
  • Please pay attention to the http://www.ncshla.org website for continued Action Alerts. Perhaps their frequency can decrease (whew!) and we’ll have the opportunity to reflect on this crisis experience as a ‘lessons learned’ period of time.
  • Beginning July 1st, the information made available in the form of Action Alerts will appear in the “Members Only” section of NCSHLA. Therefore, I encourage you to JOIN NCSHLA TODAY at the special Advocacy Rate of $80/year so that you will continue to have access to vital information and even more importantly, you will receive this information delivered straight to your email In-Box in a timely manner – which, as we’ve learned, is critical! This is quite possibly the best $80 that you will invest all year.
  • You can join right from the homepage on your desktop at http://www.ncshla.org .
  • We’ve learned in the last few weeks that the association of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists is a sum of its parts and it’s ‘parts’ are its people – that’s all of us.
  • The more organized, informed and aware we are, the more likely we are to protect the integrity and most basic foundations of the services that we provide.
  • The next 4-6 years of “healthcare reform” are likely to shake the very core of the medical profession and we must be prepared for advocacy on both the state and national level.
  • We’ve learned that we can do this – together, we can achieve great things.

Feel good about your incredible efforts thus far but please remember, it isn’t final until Governor Perdue has signed it! We’ll need to stay engaged in this process through its conclusion. Stay tuned and keep the faith…….we believe!

Jeri Bates
Professional Affairs Committee



Featured Organization: North Carolina Speech Language Hearing Association (CASANA)

We thank NCSHLA for allowing PediaStaff to reprint their news update. North Carolina Speech Language Hearing Association is a professional association chartered in 1954 that promotes the professional practice of the speech, language and hearing sciences, advocates and serves as the voice of the profession, and works to enhance the lives of communicatively impaired citizens statewide. Please visit their website at http://www.ncshla.org/index.php

Tags: News of the Week Past Advocacy Newsletter June 2009 North Carolina