STATE UPDATE (Accurate as of 09/15/2020)
NC General Assembly
On September 2, the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) returned to Raleigh for a two-day mini-session. It is expected to be the last time the General Assembly meets this year, unless there are additional federal funds that need to be allocated.
The purpose of the recent two-day session was to allocate more than $900 million in federal Coronavirus dollars. The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 outlines the distribution of the COVID-19 relief funds to various state departments, universities and nonprofits. The allocations that are most related to people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD) include:
Additional Allocations from the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 include:
Medicaid Clinical Coverage Policies
There are/were numerous proposed new or amended Medicaid clinical coverage policies up for review on the DHHS website. There were several that included addition of telehealth options for services and supports. NCCDD provided comments on the following policies:
The above policies included the addition of telehealth options for delivery of services. The pandemic has generated expansion of telehealth in a short span of time to provide services in a safe manner and has offered a unique opportunity to provide alternatives to in-person services. These alternatives have allowed many individuals and families to continue to receive needed supports. As the state moves forward and considers how telehealth will continue to be an aspect of services delivery, it is important to develop methods to evaluate the effectiveness of telehealth for people with I/DD in accessing healthcare and support services. It will be critical to determine which visits and services are effective through telehealth and which are more appropriate for in-person due to urgency, complexity or individual factors. Assessing access to technology, comfort with using technology and cultural acceptance of virtual/remote services is also necessary. While telehealth has certainly expanded access for a segment of people with I/DD, it is critical to ensure that it does not create or exacerbate access issues and result in less effective supports for others with I/DD.
NCCDD asked that DHHS work with the LME/MCOs to develop a consistent method for evaluating access and appropriateness of telehealth services across the state for people with I/DD.
NCCDD will also provide input on the NC Innovations Waiver.
The November elections are fast approaching. Some key dates to keep in mind:
Oct 9 – Voter Registration deadline
Oct 15 – Early Voting begins
Oct 27 – Last day to request absentee ballot. (Do this as soon as possible because absentee ballots have to be postmarked by Election Day at 5 pm AND received by Nov 6th in order to be counted)
Oct 31 - Early Voting ends
Nov 3 – Election Day
Multi Partisan Assistance teams (MAT) are available in each county to provide assistance with mail-in absentee voting and other services to voters living in facilities and voters with disabilities. Contact your county board of elections to request MAT assistance. They can provide the following help:
In our last Highlights and Hot Topics issue, the HEROES Act which was passed by the House and the HEALS Act which was introduced by the Senate were described and compared. Unfortunately, there has been little progress made in the negotiations on a fourth coronavirus relief package. Upon returning to Washington last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a $497 billion COVID-19 relief act. Considered a ‘skinny’ version of the $1 trillion HEALS Act, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools, and Small Businesses Act (S.Amdt.2652) was voted down 52-47 along party lines, with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who joined Democrats in voting no.
The continued partisan disagreement over the scope of relief needed to address COVID-19 makes it increasingly unlikely that a standalone COVID-19 relief package will pass before the November election. Both chambers are expected to turn their attention to funding the government past the end of the fiscal year on September 30.