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NCCOA Current News

February 2019

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  • Coalition's Day at the Legislature: The General Assembly is back in full swing and now is the time to gather as a collective group to visit with state House and Senate members to talk about our five priority issues for this legislative session. Legislators have many issues competing for their attention so meeting with them to share key facts about the issues and to help put a face on aging in the state is an important step in our advocacy strategy. Join us for the Coalition's Day at the Legislature on Tuesday, February 26, and make your voice heard. For more details, read the entire February News Edition.
  • New Congressional Elections in Two Districts: The State Board of Elections called for a new election on in the 9th Congressional District on Thursday after Republican Mark Harris acknowledged the mounting evidence of ballot fraud in his race and said a new contest was needed. Read more about this in an article by WRAL Statehouse reporter Travis Fain. A new election was already needed in the state's 3rd Congressional District due to the Feb. 10 death of longtime Rep. Walter Jones, who had represented Eastern North Carolina in the U.S. House since 1995. Three Republicans have announced their plans to run for the 3rd Congressional District seat: Michele Nix, the vice chair of the NC GOP; Rep. Phil Shepard, a five-term state House member from Onslow County; and Rep. Michael Speciale, a four-term state House member from Craven County. Gov. Roy Cooper must set the date for these special elections.

...Read the Entire February News Edition

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Archived News

January 2019

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  • Voter ID: Senate Bill 824 (Implementation of Voter ID Constitutional Amendment) passed the General Assembly on December 6 and was vetoed by the Governor on December 14. Provisions of the legislation have been shared previously with Coalition members. The General Assembly overrode the Governor's veto, first in the Senate on December 18 and then in the House on December 19 at which time the legislation became law (SL 2018-144 ). The state NAACP and six of its branches filed a federal lawsuit the day after the bill became law, and six voters represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit in state court minutes after the bill became law. The lawsuits have in common the contention that the law discriminates against minority voters. A new organization called Spread the Vote is beginning work in the state to help people get photo IDs. The organization works in five states and is expanding to seven more, including North Carolina, said spokesman Andrew Feldman. Spread the Vote works to get people the documents they need to obtain certain IDs. (Lynn Bonner, THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 12/20/18). In the latest twist in developments related to the lawsuits, lawyers for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore filed a motion in federal court on January 14 to intervene in the lawsuit challenging rules to implement the new requirement that voters present photo identification at the polls. (Matthew Burns, WRAL NEWS, 1/14/19)
  • Coalition Joins National Coalition of Consumer Organizations on Aging (NCCO): Thanks to the assistance of Howard Bedlin, Vice-President for Public Policy and Advocacy with NCOA and keynote speaker at the Coalition's 2018 annual meeting, the Coalition was invited to join NCCO which is a NCOA collaborative network of statewide and community-based senior-based consumer organizations. Since 1996, NCCO has worked to bring together and strengthen grassroots senior consumer organizations to serve low-income and disadvantaged older persons. A benefit of being in the Coalition is having monthly conference calls where Howard shares information on federal developments related to aging issues.

...Read the Entire January News Edition

November 2018

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  • Disaster Recovery Fund for Seniors: Hurricanes Florence and Michael have left many people in our state in great need of help. In response to this need, several aging organizations and groups including the NC Association on Aging, the NC Association of Area Agencies on Aging, AARP NC, and the Coalition on Aging have partnered to establish the NC Disaster Recovery Fund for Seniors. The purpose of this Fund is to help address the unmet needs and the long-term recovery of older North Carolinians and local aging agencies. The NC Association on Aging (NCAOA) is administering the fund. On-line donations can be made at www.ncaoa.org (designate for Disaster Recovery for Seniors) or checks can be made payable to and mailed to NCAOA at PO Box 10341, Raleigh, NC 27605. In the memo line note "Disaster Fund."
  • Medicaid Waiver Approved: On October 24, North Carolina's Medicaid overhaul cleared a major hurdle with the federal government giving an official nod to plans to switch to a managed-care system. Approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in what's known as a Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver means the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is on track with its Medicaid reform plan. The department will begin transitioning three-quarters of the state's 2.1 million Medicaid patients next November to managed care and away from the current fee-for-service system. The approval also gave a green light for pilot programs to look at alternative ways to improve health, making North Carolina the first state to receive permission to use Medicaid dollars for enhanced case management tools to target what are referred to as social determinants of health such as homelessness, family violence, toxic stress, transportation issues and food insecurity. Other proposals approved by CMS as part of the waiver include using federal matching dollars to treat addictions, including opioids, and a tailored plan for those with significant disabilities and complex behavioral health needs. The state also plans on developing a specialized plan to cover children in the foster care system and provide coverage up to age 26 for those who have aged out of the foster care system, according to the CMS approval letter. Cost was one issue that was debated in the negotiation process, after the state made its initial request to CMS for the waiver in June 2016.

    CMS didn't give North Carolina health officials everything they wanted, though. Among things the state asked for that was denied was the ability to use Medicaid funding to cover uncompensated medical costs the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' medical system takes on for 13,000 of its tribal members. Also denied was a request to provide short-term behavioral crisis services in non-hospital inpatient facilities, funding for a telemedicine program and Medicaid dollars to address gaps in the state's health care workforce. Also getting a thumbs down from CMS was a proposed program, Carolina Cares, that would have been an alternate way of expanding the Medicaid program to cover the hundreds of thousands of North Carolina adults who are without health care and earn too little to qualify for a subsidy. Carolina Cares was conceived as a backdoor of sorts to Medicaid expansion -- it proposed to have low-income adults in the workforce pay into a health care plan without contributions from state coffers. It has not received the approval of our state legislature. CMS advised that the state needs the support of its own legislature before coming to CMS for permission. (Sarah Ovaska-Few, NC HEALTH NEWS, 10/26/18)

...Read the Entire November News Edition

October 2018

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  • Disaster Recovery Fund for Seniors: Hurricane Florence has left many people in our state in great need for help. We are fortunate that many opportunities to made donations to assist those impacted by the storm have become available. The Coalition is aware that a number of Coalition members have established disaster assistance funds to benefit their constituents or staff of local agencies impacted by the storm. Knowing that there is a great need to help many of our state's older citizens, several aging organizations and groups including the NC Association on Aging, the NC Association of Area Agencies on Aging, AARP NC, and the Coalition on Aging have partnered to establish the NC Disaster Recovery Fund for Seniors. The purpose of this Fund is to help address the unmet needs and the long-term recovery of older North Carolinians. Funds are being collected to help older adults who many need assistance with housing, food, clothing, transportation, home repairs, medications, and other needs. The NC Association on Aging (NCAOA) is administering the fund and all donations collected will go to help seniors needing assistance. On-line donations can be made at www.ncaoa.org (designate for Disaster Recovery for Seniors) or checks can be made payable to and mailed to NCAOA at PO Box 10341, Raleigh, NC 27605. In the memo line note "Disaster Fund."
  • Investment in Home Delivered Meals: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina announced in September a significant investment of $2.6 million in three nonprofits fighting hunger across the state: Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, Meals on Wheels of NC, and MANNA Food Bank. The funds will support food assistance programs and increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities across more than 65 of North Carolina's counties. $1.2 million of the Blue Cross NC funds will be allocated to support day-to-day functions of Meals on Wheels providers across the 40 most economically distress (Tier 1) counties in the state. Over a 3-year period, the investment of $30,000 per county ($10,000 per year) has the potential to deliver almost 200,000 meals across the state. (Blue Cross NC Press Release)

...Read the Entire October News Edition

August 2018

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  • Consider Becoming a Sponsor of the Coalition's Annual Meeting/Luncheon: Sponsorships, at four different levels, are still available for the annual meeting/luncheon. Outside of membership dues, sponsorships of the annual meeting and luncheon are the largest source of financial support for the Coalition. In addition to helping the Coalition, sponsors also receive a number of perks. To find out more, contact Mary Bethel at mmbethel72@gmail.com.
  • Judges Rule and Another Special Legisaltive Session Scheduled: After a loss in court on Tuesday, legislative leaders called for a special session for Friday, August 24, to rewrite ballot questions for two proposed constitutional amendments. A three-judge panel sided Tuesday with Gov. Roy Cooper, who had sued to stop two amendments that would shift many of the governor's appointment powers to the legislature. All five living former North Carolina governors have come out against these two amendments and, on Thursday, all six living former chief justices of the state Supreme Court came out against them as well. The 2-1 ruling by the judges found that the questions on the ballot would mislead voters about the true impacts of the amendments. The court order gives legislative leaders two options to keep the proposed amendments on November's ballot: Appeal the decision or "act immediately to correct the problems in the language of the Ballot Questions so that these proposed amendments, properly identified and described, may yet appear on the November 2018 general election ballot." Attorneys for legislative leaders filed a notice of appeal on Wednesday afternoon with the NC Court of Appeals and called for the special session on Thursday. Late Thursday evening, legislative leaders released the language legislators will start from when they convene Friday to rework the proposed constitutional amendments. To read more about this, click here and here. (@NCCapitol)

...Read the Entire August News Edition

July 2018

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  • Coalition Seeking Nominations for Board of Directors: Nominations are currently being accepted by the Coalition on Aging for its first Board of Directors. As a part of the process for pursuing becoming a 501(c)3 organization, the Coalition adopted new by-laws at its membership meeting on June 22. Establishing a Board of Directors is a provision in the by-laws. Information about the duties of Board members, other details pertaining to the Board, and a Board member nomination form can be found in an attachment to the e-mail transmitting this Update. The deadline for nominations is August 10. Completed nomination forms should be sent to Bill Lamb, Past President of the Coalition and Chair of the Nominating Committee, at william.e.lamb@gmail.com.
  • General Assembly Holds Surprise Special Session: On July 24, the state legislature held a quickly called one day extra session to pass two election-related bills. One bill passed will likely mean the six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in the fall election will not have titles. Republican noted the bill was necessary because there was fear that the Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission (composed of two Democrats and one Republican) which was established in 2016 to write the titles of Constitutional Amendments was under pressure to politicize the titles. The second bill passed would remove the party affiliation from any candidate who switched parties less than 90 days before filing for office. The 90 day deadline was removed by legislators last year when they cancelled judicial primaries this year. The bill was prompted by the fact a former Democrat filed as a Republican for the State Supreme Court race. The presence of two Republicans on the ballot was seen as a potential threat to the re-election of Republican Justice Barbara Jackson. Read more about this at NCCapitol and at the News and Observer.

...Read the Entire July News Edition

June 2018

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  • New State Aging Director Named: Joyce Massey-Smith has been named as the Director of the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) effective June 29. Joyce is no stranger to the aging network. She has worked at DAAS since March of 1996, first as an Adult Program Representative and most recently as Section Chief for Adult Services. She also worked previously as the Area Agency on Aging Administrator at the Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments in Winston Salem (now merged with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council) for a number of years. In making the announcement, Michael A. Becketts, Assistant Secretary for Human Services with the NC Department of Health and Human Services, noted that Joyce brings to her new position experience in the two primary areas DAAS serves; aging and services to adults and that she is passionate about her work and supports innovative ways to improve the Department's work and how it supports county departments of social services, Area Agencies on Aging, and community stakeholders.
  • Legislative Session Winds Down: The 2018 short legislative session is drawing to a close, probably by the end of this week. We have kept Coalition members updated throughout the session relative to actions pertaining to aging and issues which impact older adults and their families. When all was said and done, there was approximately $1 million appropriated to support services to keep seniors in their homes and communities (Home and Community Block Grant) and another $1 million to support adult guardianship. In addition, the Budget Technical Corrections Bill appropriated $5.5 million to increase the rate for the Medicaid Community Alternatives Program for Disabled Adults (CAP-DA). There were no bills that specially addressed aging issues that have passed this session; however, there are several that certainly have ramifications for older adults and are of interest to aging advocates. A summary will be provided following the end of the session. There is more to this article...

...Read the Enitre June News Edition

May 2018

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  • Legislature Reconvenes: The start of the short legislative session on Wednesday was anything but routine as approximately 20,000 North Carolina teachers and their supporters gathered in Raleigh for the "March for Students and Rally for Respect" and to take their message to legislators for increasing teacher pay and education spending. As the session gets underway, there is speculation that this session will truly be short in duration. House and Senate Republican budget leaders have been meeting behind closed doors for several weeks in hopes of developing a spending deal quickly. Adjusting the second year of the budget is the primary job of legislators during the short session. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger have already announced that the two chambers have agreed on a spending target of $23.9 billion. That is about $270 million above what legislators approved for next year in last year's budget bill. Senate leader Burger has said that the Senate, which takes the lead on budget development this session, should have something to start voting on in early June.

    In making budget decisions, legislators will have more money to work with this session. The state expects to collect $357 million more than anticipated this current year, according to state economists. This makes the fourth consecutive year in which the state will record a surplus. These extra collections also led state economists to predict there will be an additional $277 million at the state's disposal for the next fiscal year starting July 1st.

    In addition to budget deliberations, priority issues that the legislature is expected to take up include prison security, school safety, and water contamination. House Republicans are also studying several amendments to the constitution and will announce soon which ones will get a vote. Options being considered include amendments requiring a photo ID to vote, protecting crime victim's rights, protecting the right to hunt and fish, and banning lawmakers from raising the income tax rate higher than 5.5%. Action is also expected from legislators on proposals from state agencies and legislative study committees that met during the interim, most of which aren't controversial. One thing that may not be on the agenda for the short session, however, is a controversial plan to redraw judicial districts. Legislative leaders say there is still not consensus on this matter.

    To view full calendar review the entire May News Update
  • Coalition Advocacy in Short Legislative Session: As announced previously, the Coalition on Aging will have a Virtual Advocacy Day on May 22. Members are encouraged to make calls and send e-mails to their Senate and House members as well as Health and Human Service Committee leadership regarding our priority issues. Contact information for members of the Senate can be found here and for the House here. On June 6, Coalition members who are available, are also invited to meet at the Legislative Building to make in-person visits with legislators about our priorities. More details about the May 22 Virtual Advocacy Day and the June 22 visits will be shared at the May 18 Coalition on Aging meeting.

...Read the May News Edition

April 2018

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  • What's Next on the Federal Funding Front: President Trump has reported that he is hearing from many constituents about the increased level of funding in the Omnibus bill and the raising of the caps on annual spending, and he has indicated that he is considering a proposal to rescind some of the funding. Key Republican members of Congress have indicated that a rescissions package is a "non-starter as they are concerned about how moving forward with such a package would affect future bipartisan negotiations over spending bills. Congress is now working on FY 19 appropriations. Republican appropriation leaders in both the House and Senate have already held strategy sessions to talk about how to get individual spending bills to the floor as soon as possible. A fast paced spring schedule is planned with markups slated to start up weeks earlier than last year. First floor votes could come as soon as early June with action on all 12 appropriation bills by the July Fourth break. An important driver in this process is the fact that it is an election year and many House and Senate members are in competitive races and they want to get the budget done as soon as possible so they can spend time on the campaign trail.

    The Division is currently checking about the use of technology to join the sessions and will communicate if this is possible. For registration information, click on the April News Edition link below.
  • Aging Policy Listening Sessions: As was announced at last Friday's Coalition meeting, the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services has added two additional Aging Policy Listening Sessions for the 2019-2023 State Aging Services Plan. This brings to five the number of listening sessions that will be held in May and June. These Listening Sessions, which are co-hosted by the NC Association of Area Agencies on Aging, will help identify the needs of the state's older citizens, disabled adults, and their caregivers. As noted, the information gathered will also inform North Carolina's 2019-2023 Aging Services Plan and will likely guide policy work for the Division, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and other agencies of state government in the next several years. Therefore, it is important that aging consumers, providers, and advocates come out in full force at these Sessions to make their voices heard. DHHS Assistant Secretary for Human Services, Michael Becketts, indicated at Friday's Coalition meeting that it is his intention to attend all of the Listening Sessions if possible. Within the next two weeks, the Coalition will be sending materials to members that can be helpful in preparing remarks about priorities of the Coalition. The dates and locations of the listening sessions can be found by clicking on the April News Edition link below.

...Read the April News Edition

March 2018

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  • Older Drivers: North Carolina ranks fifth-highest in the U.S. for the percentage of fatal traffic accidents involving older drivers, according to a report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit transportation research group that evaluates economic and technical data on surface transportation. According to the report, the number of older drivers who are involved or killed in traffic crashes is rising even faster than the number of people who are 65 or older. North Carolina ranks ninth nationally for the number of licensed drivers -- nearly 1.4 million -- who are 65 and older, but the state ranked fifth for the number of traffic fatalities that involved at least one older driver (285) in 2016.

    The 46 million Americans 65 or older comprise 15% of the population, TRIP says, but by 2060, their proportion of the population is expected to reach 24%. According to the group, nearly 80% live in car-dependent places such as suburbs and rural areas. The report attributes the rising number of fatalities involving older drivers, in part, to physical frailties that make them less likely to survive a crash. While older drivers tend to be more cautious than most on the road, they're also likely to have poorer eyesight, reaction time, cognitive ability and physical dexterity, it says. In response to the report, Gary Salamido, vice president of Government Affairs for the North Carolina Chamber, said in a statement. "An additional two million people are expected to call North Carolina home by 2030, with nearly one-third of these individuals aged 65 years or older. TRIP's report highlights the need for increased safety measures on all of North Carolina's roadways, which should be a top priority for the North Carolina Department of Transportation."
  • Alzheimer's 2018 Facts and Figures: The Alzheimer's Association released its 2018 Facts and Figures on March 20. According the information released, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, and by 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million. In North Carolina, 170,000 people 65 and older are estimated to have Alzheimer's. In 2018, Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the nation $277 billion. By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion. An estimated 16.1 million Americans provide unpaid care for persons with Alzheimer's or other dementias. These caregivers provided an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care valued at over $232 billion. There are 466,000 caregivers in North Carolina providing unpaid care for persons with Alzheimer's or other dementias. These caregivers provide 531 million hours of unpaid care valued at $6,707,000,000. The estimated lifetime cost of caring for someone with dementia is $341,840. The report notes that Medicaid costs for caring for people with Alzheimer's in North Carolina is an estimated $1.188 billion. The per capita Medicare spending on people with dementia in 2017 was $21,477.

...Read the March News Edition

February 2018

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  • Special Legislative Session Ends: The state General Assembly wrapped up its latest special legislative session last week after passing HB 90, and omnibus bill covering class size reductions, adjusting composition of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, and the mitigation fund for counties impacted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Legislators are expected back in Raleigh on May 16 for the traditional short legislative session baring any special sessions that pop up between now and then. Interim Committees will continue their work, including working on plans for judicial redistricting.
  • Veterans Programs: The N.C. Department of Military and Veteran Affairs (DMVA) says that the state needs a comprehensive and strategic plan to address challenges facing veterans and their families. Larry Hall, secretary of the DMVA, presented the agency's findings to lawmakers on February 6 during a joint oversight committee meeting. The department's findings were part of a study required by SB 62, which was signed into law last year. The study covered potential methods of documenting, collecting and analyzing the outcome of various programs in the state on individual military veterans and their families. According to the recommendations, the plan should include a monitoring and evaluation component for each program or service, and a comprehensive inventory of all programs, services and other benefits available. Hall also laid out three additional recommendations that would need legislative action, including appropriating resources so the DMVA can develop a comprehensive strategic plan for veterans and their dependents. The other recommendations included creating a comprehensive and current inventory of veterans' program in the state and establishing an interim legislative committee or directing one to study solutions for increasing access to the programs. (The Insider, 2/7/18).

...Read the February News Edition

January 2018

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  • Rate Hike Rejected: North Carolina's Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has rejected a proposed 18.7% increase on home insurance rates proposed by the NC Rate Bureau. The Rate Bureau, which represents the industry, had asked in November for the statewide increase, which would range from an increase of 80.5 percent in some coastal counties to a decrease of 7.1 percent in parts of western North Carolina. If the Insurance Department and the Rate Bureau can not settle the matter, Causey would preside over a July hearing and issue a decision. The Rate Bureau could appeal Causey's ruling to the state Court of Appeals. Read more here.
  • Medicaid Work Requirements: North Carolina, along with ten other states, has received permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to require Medicaid recipients, with some exceptions, to either work or participate in activities such as job training and volunteering in order to qualify for benefits. The ruling from CMS affects the federal Medicaid waiver request submitted by the McCrory administration in June 2016 and amended November 20 by the Cooper administration. The state's request for the work requirement applies only if Medicaid expansion, which has been opposed by our state legislature, comes to fruition here. Governor Cooper's administration has not asked for permission to add work requirements to the state's existing Medicaid health insurance program, which covers more than 2 million people. Click here to read a NC Health News story on this.

...Read the January News Edition