Tillis urges Senate to move on 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.

House lawmakers unanimously approved a bill today that will make group homes eligible for emergency state supplemental funds through June 30.

“I was glad to see it. It was a long time coming. It’s something I was prepared to come back for a special session on,” Tillis said after Thursday’s vote. 

Lawmakers last year set aside $39 million to help adult care homes keep their doors open in the face of Medicaid changes that have cut funding levels for most of their residents. A mistake made in a bill last summer excluded group homes from that gap funding.

Advocates for the mentally and developmentally disabled have been calling for a fix for months. 

The measure, House Bill 5, doesn’t address related funding problems for Alzheimer’s units. House leaders say they’re looking for an administrative solution for that issue.

“We’ve still got work to do to address the long term solutions for Alzheimer’s care and a number of other things,” Tillis said. “But we wanted to move it on, and hope the Senate will take it up quickly.”

It’s not clear whether that will happen. Senate Leader Phil Berger told WRAL News on Wednesday he’s not convinced the group home fix is a crisis.

"It's an issue that we'll deal with as we go forward," 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."

Tillis said today he hopes Berger will reconsider.

“I’m viewing the urgency from the perspective of the people who are concerned about it,” Tillis said. “With due respect, I think it’s just about taking all that uncertainty away from people out there who’re really worried about whether they’re going to have the care that they need.“


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