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House passes group home fix

Posted January 31, 2013

Scores of disabled people who live in group homes rallied outside the Legislative Building on Nov. 14, 2012, saying they will likely be on the streets within two months if lawmakers don't take action to provide Medicaid funding for personal care services they need in their daily lives.

— The House on Thursday passed a bill that allows patients with mental illness who live in group homes to stay there for the time being.

A glitch in last year's budget law kept those individuals from access a special pot of money that was set aside to make up for the loss of funding for personal care services, such as assistance with eating, bathing or other daily chores.

Federal regulators pushed for changes to Medicaid eligibility requirements to ensure the same standards exist for people no matter where they live, instead of having rules that could steer people toward institutional care. The changes took effect Jan. 1, and group home operators feared the loss of Medicaid funding would force them to shut down.

The House voted 116-0 on House Bill 5, but it's fate in the Senate remains murky. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Wednesday that he wasn't in a hurry to address the group home issue.

The bill provides a temporary fix through July 1, and lawmakers said they would put a permanent fix in place as part of the budget.

"This is the fix we need," said Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange.

The bill does not address a separate problem for Alzheimer's patients who are living in special care units. Those units are caught between reimbursement rates proposed by the state and what the federal government would allow.

Before the legislative session started, legislative leaders had said the group home bill might address problems with the special care units.

"We're working with the department on the issue," Appropriations Chairman Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said.

Lawmakers may have to address the problem, he said, but if they do that will come later in the session.

5 Comments

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  • Terkel Jan 31, 12:26 p.m.

    Winston, I asked that yesterday. Why can't they tap that 37.9 B they "found" like they always do at the 11th hour?

    See why govt dependence turns out so badly? Not that I'm faulting these patients or their families, I get they were counting on this. All I can say is, Watch, learn, and REMEMBER. And if you don't make provisions for yourself and loved ones, don't come squawking about how the govt doesn't "care". Their role is not to care, it's to keep the State operating. It's YOUR role to care.

  • Winston Jan 31, 11:50 a.m.

    Let me get this straight. EVERY person suffering from Alzheimer's or a mental illness, should be supported with housing and professional help by govt. monies? I just DON'T see the monies to satisfy this. Do you? If yes, where's it at and/or where would you like it come from???????

  • Terkel Jan 31, 11:02 a.m.

    It's a "fix", but it's not!

    "The bill provides a temporary fix through July 1...The bill does not address a separate problem for Alzheimer's patients who are living in special care units."

    But these are the people that are most at risk...I thought.

  • sarascompton Jan 31, 11:02 a.m.

    The alzheimer's portion is a major issue across the state. The lack of attention and resolution to this will put vulnerable and very ill patients (they ARE patients) in desperate situations - even the possiblity of them becoming homeless on the streets. Until you walk these shoes, you have no idea how bad it is.

  • momeeee Jan 31, 10:58 a.m.

    Thank you!