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Mental healthcare rally next week

Mental healthcare advocates are holding another rally at the Legislative Building over the budget. NAMI North Carolina is sponsoring the Tuesday, June 25 gathering.

The group is opposing a Senate budget provision that would require doctors receive authorization before prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to Medicaid patients. They support money for statewide aid to group home. The House budget includes $8 million for group homes, but includes eligibility restrictions NAMI North Carolina does not like.

A May rally by mental healthcare advocates protested the Senate budget.

House and Senate negotiators are beginning to work on a compromise budget that will pass both chambers.

Legislature approves funds for group homes, Alzheimer's units

The state House gave unanimous approval to a measure that will allow group homes for the mentally disabled and Alzheimer's units in adult care homes to tap into a $39.7 million state fund to compensate for the loss of Medicaid money.

The bill now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.

Under federal pressure, the legislature last year changed how people qualify for personal care - help bathing, eating, and walking - that's paid by the government health insurance program.

Many people with mental disabilities living in group homes no longer qualify, and pay for special care for Alzheimer's patients is under new limits.

The bill allows payments to group homes and special care units from a special fund set up to compensate adult care homes for Medicaid losses until June 30. Group home owners, advocates for the mentally ill, and a new group called the N.C. Alliance for Alzheimer's Care want legislators to approve long-term solutions.

Temporary financial aid for group home residents on fast track

UPDATEDLegislators on Thursday began moving a bill that will provide temporary funding for mentally disabled people living in group homes, who were no longer eligible for Medicaid reimbursement for personal care services due to a change in the law last year that unintentionally excluded them.

House Bill 5 will head to the House floor for a vote this afternoon, and then be sent to the Senate, where quick action is also expected.

Thousands of Medicaid appeals, no requests to group home housing fund

More than 2,500 people have appealed their loss of Medicaid support for personal care services, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, no group home has requested money to compensate for the loss of Medicaid reimbursements for personal care, the DHHS said.

Medicaid rules that took hold on Jan. 1 made it harder for people living in adult care homes and group homes for the mentally disabled to qualify for Medicaid money for help bathing, walking, and eating. DHHS expects 9,000 people to appeal, or just about everyone who was told they no longer qualify for Medicaid personal care, said department spokesman Brad Deen.

Morning Roundup: Group home stopgap, audit faults DENR

Perdue finds $1 million to plug hole in group home problem, for now.

Auditor finds state fisheries employee OK'd contracts with his family.


No Perdue solution to group homes Medicaid dilemma

Gov. Bev Perdue will not present a solution to the problem with funding for group homes for people with mental disabilities today, as she said she would on Monday.

Group home providers, residents, and their families are waiting anxiously for Perdue's announcement because thousands are in jeopardy of losing Medicaid money that helps pay for their lodging. The change comes Jan. 1.

"I think we are still examining all of our options," said Perdue spokeswoman Christine Mackey. The office will announce its move next week, she said.

Morning Roundup: 3 more RJA sentences changed, trouble for Alzheimer's patients, McCrory's first 3 picks, what mayors want

A Cumberland County judge has converted three death sentences to life in prison in a Racial Justice Act ruling.

Alzheimer's patients on Medicaid in special housing might see their federal payments cut below the limit where the facilities can no longer afford to care for them.

Gov.-elect Pat McCrory names secretaries of Health and Human Services and of Environment and Natural Resources, and a chief of staff. All are fresh faces in state government, but well-known in Repbulican circles.

Mayors from the state's biggest cities got together to chart out a common course for the next legislative session.

1355503460 Morning Roundup: 3 more RJA sentences changed, trouble for Alzheimer's patients, McCrory's first 3 picks, what mayors want The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tillis calls for special session on funding for mental disabled in group homes

House Speaker Thom Tills on Friday asked Gov. Bev Perdue to convene a special session on funding for the state’s mental health group homes.

Tillis, a Republican from Mecklenburg County, sent a letter to the governor outlining his request.


Special Session Request Letter.pdf

New year's 'gifts' for administrative judges

At the first of the year, up to 2,000 people with mental disabilities living in group homes may find themselves without lodging because of a change in Medicaid rules.

Gov. Bev Perdue said last week that she's working on a solution, but for now, state officials, legislators, and advocacy groups are promoting a plan to flood the administrative court system with appeals from Medicaid recipients affected by the new rule.

Recipients' benefits will continue during their appeals, and idea is that pumping thousands of appeals into an administrative court system with fewer than a dozen judges will give the legislature time to fix the Medicaid problem when it gets back to work in late January.

Chief Administrative Law Judge Julian Mann said being handed thousands of cases at once would be difficult, but the court could hire temporary administrative judges, if necessary, to help handle the workload.

The administrative court has 10 judges available to hear cases.

Mann said he could not comment on using administrative appeals as a stall tactic.

"Our responsibility is to absorb as efficiently as possible the cases and dispose of them in a timely manner," Mann said. But, "if you pour enough water into the canal, it will eventually overflow."

Perdue vows fix for group home residents

Gov. Bev Perdue said she will work with the legislature to keep up to 2,000 people with mental disabilities from being turned out of their group homes this winter -- including the possibility of a special session.

On Jan. 1, changing Medicaid rules means that most group home residents will no longer qualify for government-paid personal care services. Medicaid reimbursements for personal care pay about one-third of group home costs.

Perdue said on Thursday that she was "distressed" over the prospect of mentally disabled people without places to live.

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