Senate could stand in way of group home funding relief

Posted January 30, 2013
Updated January 31, 2013

— While the state House is expected to take up legislation Thursday to provide a short-term fix for funding problems at adult group homes before emergency money runs out, Senate leaders aren't showing a similar sense of urgency about the issue.

House Bill 5 would allow the state Department of Health and Human Services to dip into the $39.7 million that lawmakers set aside last year to help adult care facilities make the transition to new Medicaid eligibility requirements. The change cuts reimbursements for personal care services such as assistance with bathing, feeding or other daily chores.

Federal regulators pushed for the changes to ensure the same personal care eligibility standards exist for people no matter where they live, instead of having rules that could steer people toward institutional care.

Group homes initially weren't able to tap into the special fund – lawmakers said it was an oversight on their part – so former Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration provided $1 million to keep homes from closing on Jan. 1 and give lawmakers a chance to fix their mistake.

"I think it's very time-sensitive," Rep. Nelson Dollar, one of the bill's sponsors, said Wednesday – one day before the money Perdue provided can no longer be accessed.

"We want to ensure our group homes stay financially viable," said Dollar, R-Wake.

Under the bill, DHHS could pay up to $694 per resident to group homes for personal care services while the residents appeal to retain their eligibility. The monthly payments would run through June, giving home operators and lawmakers time to devise a long-term solution.

House Speaker Thom Tillis said he expects a floor vote on the bill Thursday, but it's future in the Senate is uncertain. Group home generic Group home funding faces uncertain future

"It's an issue that we'll deal with as we go forward," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. "I just don't know that what you're dealing with at this point is the kind of problem and scope of problem that seems to be described by some folks."

Advocates for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities said they're concerned about what happens to group home residents if the money for personal care services dries up because of a lack of legislative action.

"We really seriously do hope that the Senate recognizes this as a crisis," said Julia Adams, assistant director of government relations for The Arc of North Carolina. "There is no safety net for (group home residents). There are no other services to transfer into, and there are no other homes for those people to transfer into."

Dollar said he hopes the Senate takes action on the bill after it leaves the House.


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  • Bartmeister Jan 31, 2013

    Oh take a chill pill folks. Until they don't act on it and the money goes away is when you can be outraged and incensed. This is typical politics, you see it from both sides everyday. Remember the fiscal cliff a couple weeks ago? 11th hour decisions are the norm anymore. Besides, how can you believe the urgency the liberal press reports any how? I'll join the anger group if they wrench the people in need of assistance. Till then, have an apple and a glass of water, it helps.

  • Scubagirl Jan 31, 2013

    Disgusting! I bet if several of those senate members had relatives in one of those facilities something would get done!

  • jayloanofficer Jan 30, 2013

    When facilities that keep 'troubled' people off the streets are not adequately funded, those people have no where to go and cause trouble on the streets - and in the schools.
    No wonder tragic incidents are happening with increasing frequency - maybe correlating the frequency in which funding is being restricted.
    Sure, cut, cut ,cut. Then you'll find you'll spend, spend, spend on funerals and school security.

  • Terkel Jan 30, 2013

    OK, wait. What's keeping the 39.7 million from them?

    Second, if the rules have changed, what are the residents appealing? To be exceptions? I'm not trying to be smart, it's just this is all so complicated and layered....THIS is why our health care costs are out of control! No one's in charge!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 30, 2013

    wildervb -

    That's about the size of it, isn't it.

    If it doesn't affect someone they know and love directly, they have no clue what's needed and many of them could care less what's needed.

    Who the heck votes for these people?

    And are there really that many dumb people voting that they keep getting re-elected???

    Seems so.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jan 30, 2013

    Shameful! They close most mass facilities that could help these people or move them so far away, family can't visit easily - then this?

    What do our legislators think should be done with them? Line them all up against the wall and shoot them?? Disgusting.

  • wildervb Jan 30, 2013

    Conservative 1: "We don't need to have gun laws, we need to fix our mental health treatment"

    Conservative 2: "We can't afford to take care of the mentally ill"

  • iron fist Jan 30, 2013

    More politics, when will the government start being FOR and BY the people? The state and federal government cares nothing about the people unless its their own circle of friends and I don't think they have many friends unless they are paying for them.

  • tiffanyruth Jan 30, 2013

    Government standing in the way of people? really, that almost never happens

  • RadioDJ Jan 30, 2013

    This bill is about caring for people. So expect the rhetoric to begin immediately about "not spending MY tax dollars on helping people!".