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GOP Senators Introduce Healthcare Expansion Act PDF Print E-mail
State Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 10:26
Raleigh, N.C. – Senators Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) today announced the Health Care Expansion Act of 2019, which would fund personal care services and in-home assistance for 2,000 disabled North Carolinians while also expanding access to health care for all citizens across the state. 
The bill would provide $41 million over the next two years to fund 2,000 slots on the state's Intellectual/Development Disability (IDD) Medicaid program waitlist. North Carolina currently serves more than 12,000 individuals with an array of developmental disabilities on the IDD Medicaid program, providing them with care that allows for a better quality of life within the comfort of their own home. Reducing this waitlist is a priority for legislative Republicans and they have funded slots a number of times before, including 400 last year.. Funding these slots would change the lives of thousands of families across North Carolina who desperately need these services.
While Democrats have focused their efforts on expanding socialized medicine via Obamacare Medicaid expansion, Republicans believe that care for people with severe disabilities should be prioritized over taxpayer funding for able-bodied adults.
"The backlog of people with disabilities who cannot care for themselves is a serious issue, and funding these slots has been and will continue to be a priority for us," said Krawiec. "Until all of the people on the IDD waitlist are taken care of, we shouldn't even consider funding health care for able-bodied adults." 
A number of other provisions in the bill focus on expanding access to health care starting with repealing all Certificate of Need (CON) requirements from North Carolina. Currently, providers looking to open a new facility or expand critical services are forced to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops to obtain a CON from the state. These requirements apply to more than 28 different types of facilities and treatments in North Carolina including ambulatory surgical centers, dialysis treatments and MRI scanners.
The original intention of CON laws was to lower health care costs, improve quality of care and preserve rural health care infrastructure. However, in practice CON laws put government control ahead of patients and doctors, handcuff health providers from offering care in their communities, and increase health care costs by stifling competition. While CON laws were originally mandated by the federal government, that mandate was repealed more than 30 years ago in 1987 because the federal government recognized the laws did not effectively restrain costs. While fifteen other states have scrapped their CON laws, most of North Carolina's remain in place.
"Certificate of Need laws are an outdated concept that have shown time and time again that they don't succeed in accomplishing any of their originally intended goals," said Bishop. "Eliminating these unnecessary regulations will increase provider competition which will enhance patient choice, lower costs and improve access to critical health services for North Carolinians." 
The Health Care Expansion Act of 2019 also expands access to mental health care services. The bill would enter North Carolina into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT). This is a cooperative agreement between a number of states that allows licensed psychologists to provide telepsychology and temporary in-person psychology services across state lines without having to become licensed in additional states. This will expand access to care particularly in areas that are currently under served or geographically isolated like North Carolina's rural communities.
Additionally, the bill will permit licensed Marriage and Family Therapists(LMFTs) to conduct first evaluations for involuntary commitment in North Carolina. Due to a shortage of psychiatrists and PHD psychologists in the state, the list of mental health professionals permitted to conduct first evaluations has expanded since 2011, but there are still not enough providers. LMFTs are trained to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, and authorizing them to conduct first evaluations will expand access to critical mental health care services throughout the state.
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