NC lawmakers advance plan to give foster care children statewide health coverage

As sweeping Medicaid expansion bill stalls in the state House, the Senate has advanced a more targeted plan to cover foster care children.

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Foster children
Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday moved ahead with a proposal that would allow state health officials to pursue a statewide health care plan for children in the state’s foster care system.

Children in foster care currently receive health care through Medicaid at the local level, which makes it difficult for them to retain their doctors and therapists when they move to any number of places. State Sen. Joyce Krawiec, a Forsyth County Republican, told her colleagues in the chamber’s rules committee that the measure would fill an important gap.

“This plan will make sure that our foster children will have one plan and no matter where they go in the state of North Carolina, they will be covered,” Krawiec said. “Their services will not be interrupted, which they are now. … This bill will take care of those children where they can be covered no matter where they are [and] at any time in North Carolina.”

House Bill 144 will have at least one amendment when it goes to the floor of the Senate, Krawiec said. The Senate would then send the measure to the House. If the House backs the bill, it would go to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for final approval.

The state Department of Health and Human Services would then issue a request for proposals and select one statewide contract. The coverage would take effect Dec. 1, 2023.

The bill is separate from a more sweeping Medicaid expansion effort that the Senate passed last week. Despite strong bipartisan support for HB 149 in the Senate, the broader expansion effort has stalled in the state House.

Although Medicaid expansion has long been a top policy priority for Cooper, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore opposes the sweeping measure in its current form and has said it doesn’t have the votes to clear his chamber. As lawmakers look to wrap up this year’s legislative session over the next month, Medicaid expansion could be a major bargaining chip in ongoing negotiations over the state budget.


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