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NCCOA Current News

October 2017

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  • Aging Subcommittee Named: As was reported to Coalition members last week, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services has announced that it has established an Aging Subcommittee to examine the state's delivery of services for older adults in order to determine their needs and to make recommendations on how to address these needs. Establishing a joint legislative committee to examine the issues pertaining to the state's growing older adult population was a priority of the Coalition in the 2017 legislative session. A provision was included in Senate Bill 257 (the Budget Bill) which stipulated that the co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services "may consider" appointing a Subcommittee. We are grateful that the co-chairs decided to exercise the option to appoint the Subcommittee.
  • State Legislative Action: : The NC General Assembly met this week for the fourth time since adjourning the traditional “long session” in June. Among other things, the legislature voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a measure that would cancel all judicial primary elections in 2018. Legislative leaders say they are canceling the judicial primaries because the primary will likely be delayed as they intend to redraw the state's superior and district court districts by next spring.

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...Supplement to the October News Edition

Archived News

September 2017

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  • General Assembly Returns in October: State lawmakers will return to Raleigh again at 12 p.m. on October 4. This marks the third time for them to convene since their regular session ended in June. Under the adjournment resolution approved, they will be able to take votes on just about any issue they want. The resolution specifies more than 13 criteria for what bills can be considered. Some potential matters include veto over-rides, redrawing the state's judicial districts, impeachment proceedings (Rep. Chris Mills had proposed relative to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall), and proposed amendments to the state constitution.
  • NC Public Transportation Division Strategic Plan Community Workshops: The NC Department of Transportation is developing the Public Transportation Statewide Strategic Plan to improve bus, rail, and paratransit services across the state by better matching transit services to the needs of North Carolinians. In October, stakeholders and the public are invited to provide input at community workshops across the state as part of the Public Transportation Statewide Strategic Plan. The workshops are free and open to the public. No registration is necessary to attend. For more information on the Statewide Strategic Plan and the community workshops, click here.

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August 2017

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  • Federal Budget Developments - The deadline for Congress to fund government programs for the next fiscal year which begins October 1 is fast approaching. With the attention focused on the ACA in July, the public's attention shifted away from budget deliberations. NCOA did a good summary the end of July about where things stand in the budgeting process. As noted in the summary, Rep. David Price from our state offered an amendment during the Appropriation Committee debate on the Labor-HHS bill to restore funding for the Administration for Community Living programs that were proposed to be cut, including the SHIP (Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program). The amendment was not approved along party lines, but Labor-HHS Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) offered to work with colleagues to restore funding as the process moves forward.
  • State Health and Human Services Budget - : In case you missed it, NC Health News has done a summary of provisions in the recently passed state budget for 2017 related to health and human services and compares what was passed with what was proposed by the House and Senate. To see a copy of the comparison document, click here.

...Read the entire August News Edition

July 2017

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  • Legislature Adjourns (For Now) - The “regular” long legislative session concluded around 2 a.m. on June 30. In the closing week of the session, lawmakers approved over 100 bills and sent them to Governor Cooper for his signature. At this time, most of those bills remain on his desk for his review. When the long session concludes, the legislature typically does not convene again until the “short session” begins the following spring. This year; however, the adjournment resolution adds at least two additional legislative sessions in 2017. A session to start on August 3 is scheduled so the legislature can address a variety of topics including voting to override any vetoes from the Governor, making appointments, approving bills currently in negotiations between the House and Senate or bills involving impeachment of an elected official, and responding to lawsuits including any court order on redistricting. The session starting on September 6 could focus on items left from the August session and redistricting including redistricting plans for judicial and prosecutorial districts. The adjournment resolution also includes a final deadline of November 15 for court-ordered legislative redistricting to be completed. House and Senate leaders have appointed new redistricting committees.
  • U.S. Senate Set to Unveil New Health Care Bill - Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Senate Republicans will unveil a new version of their health care bill this Thursday, July 13, and a new CBO score on the bill is expected early next week. He also announced that the Senate August recess has been delayed until the third week in August in order to allow more time for his conference to complete its work on health care reform and other tasks, including processing the backlog of nominations for positions. The struggles the Senate is having in getting support for its health care reform proposal have been well covered by media sources. Also receiving increased attention are stories about the potential impact reform proposals could have on consumers, including older adults, as well as state Medicaid programs. Several reports of note include the following:
    On July 11, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations sent a letter to Senator McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressing their strong opposition to the provisions of the Senate reform bill (Better Care Reconciliation Act) because of the harm they would inflict on our nation's seniors and their families.

    A June 30 and July 1 poll from Public Policy Polling found that only 33% of North Carolinians surveyed said they approve of the Senate reform bill while 53% said they disapprove of the bill.

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June 2017 - Part 1

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  • Judge Rules for State Retirees in Health Insurance Premium Litigation –A state trial judge has ruled that it was wrong to require retired state workers and teachers to begin paying health insurance premiums six years ago. In 2012, retirees sued after the state legislature directed the state employee health insurance plan to mandate that they make monthly contributions to receive what had been standard insurance coverage for decades. In the ruling, Superior Court Judge Edwin Wilson noted that retirees had a contractual right as part of their work agreement to receive the standard coverage without a premium. He ordered the state to reimburse retirees for premium payments they made to retain the “80/20” plan and offer that plan as it existed in 2011 premium-free for the rest of their lives. To read more about this, click here. A News and Observer editorial can also be found here.
  • Mark Your Calendar for Coalition's Annual Meeting –The Coalition's 2017 annual meeting will be held on Friday, September 22, at 12:00 noon (registration at 11:30 a.m.) at the NC State University Club located at 4200 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. This is the same location as last year's meeting. Keynote speaker this year will be Dr. James H. Johnson Jr. who is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor for strategy and entrepreneurship at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. He is also director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise where he started the Elder Care Economy Innovations Hub. Dr. Johnson is a much sought after speaker and we are pleased that he has agreed to address our meeting. Registration information about the meeting will be available next month.

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June 2017 - Part 2

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  • Sarah Smith joined the staff of the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services as Adult Services Program Administrator effective June 5. Prior to coming to the Division, she worked in Montgomery County where she most was recently the Adult Services Supervisor. She also worked there as an Adult Services Social Worker.
  • AARP, with support of the nation's leading organizations behind quality long-term care – The Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation – has released a state-by-state Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard (2017 Edition) that takes a multi-dimensional approach to measure state level performance of long-term services and supports systems that assist older people, people with disabilities, and family caregivers. The Scorecard examines each state's performance using 25 data indicators and measures changes in performance since the second Scorecard which was released in 2014. The full report is available at www.longtermscorecard.org and the report for North Carolina is available here.
  • Flu season is over, and this years was deadlier than usual. North Carolina health officials recorded more deaths to flu complications this season than in any year since they began tracking them in 2009. Click here to learn more.
  • We are saddened to learn that Ruth Mitchell, long time aging professional and advocate, passed away on June 9. She was Director for the Center for Active Retirement in Rockingham County. Ruth had a warm and outgoing personality and always went the extra step to help others. She will be missed. Her family, friends, and co-workers are in our thoughts.

...Read the entire LATE June News Edition

May 2017 - News Edition

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  • A 2015 study of home delivered meal participants which was conducted by Brown University's Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research and funded by AARP found that participation in the traditional Meals on Wheels program (those receiving daily meals delivered by a volunteer who provides a friendly visit and safety check) has a significant, positive impact on the health, wellbeing, and social connectedness of homebound seniors. Key findings of the study were that older adults who received daily meals exhibited improvements in their mental health, were less lonely, felt connected and less isolated, felt more confident about living independently in their own home, ate healthier food, and experienced reduced rates of hospitalizations and falls when compared to seniors who did not receive the service. The return on investment demonstrated by the program was significant.
  • Medicare recognizes a list of medications – that can be potentially inappropriate for older adults called the Beers List. The list includes commonly prescribed prescription medications such as proton pump inhibitors and opioids. Older adults who take these medications at higher doses over long periods of time are at higher risk for complications Many of the medicines need to be tapered over time and not stopped cold turkey.

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April 2017 - News Edition

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  • NC Retirement Reform Bill Introduced - Senate Bill 467 which was introduced the end of March by Senators Andy Wells, Bill Rabon, and Ron Rabin would make dramatic changes in the benefits offered to future state employees. The Bill provisions stipulate that state workers hired after July 20118 would not be eligible for enrollment in the state health insurance plan when they retire and most new workers would not be eligible for state pensions, but would be offered the option of enrolling in 401(k) plans. The State Employees Association of NC and the NC Retired Governmental Employees Association, both Coalition on Aging members, note that ending these benefits would hurt job recruitment as many employees work for the state at below-market wages because they will receive a pension and health insurance benefits in retirement. Senate Bill 467 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Pensions, Compensation, and Benefits.
  • What's Next for ACA? – Several media outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump is now saying that he is determined to resurrect the health care bill even if it means delaying tax overhaul. Last month after the US House of Representatives failed to pass a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the President said that he was prepared to put the defeat of the bill behind him and move on to the next challenge, rewriting the tax code. To read more about this and to keep updated on developments related to health news, including the health care law, check out Kaiser Health News.

...Read the Entire April News Edition

March 2017 - News Edition

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  • Pitt County Council on Aging Hosts Legislative Breakfast - On Monday, the Pitt County on Aging hosted a legislative breakfast attended by more than 150 people. The future of the nation's health care system – specifically the ability to obtain health insurance – dominated the discussion. The event was attended by U.S. Reps. Walter Jones and G.K. Butterfield and state legislators Rep. Greg Murphy, Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Sen. Don Davis. Sen. Tom Tillis' office was represented by staff member Brian Brown. With Congress and our State Legislature in full swing and many important issues on the agenda, now is a great time to schedule local events with elected officials.
  • Bi-Partisan Bill Introduced to Establish Aging Subcommittee – We are excited that at the urging of the Coalition, four members of the House have introduced House Bill 248 which would establish an Aging Subcommittee of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services (HHS). Establishing a joint legislative committee was a key priority of the Coalition. The Subcommittee would be comprised of 21 members and would be charged with studying a variety of issues related to aging including issues pertaining to working caregivers for older persons, also a priority of the Coalition. Sponsors of the legislation are Reps. Josh Dobson (co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services as well as the House Health Committee), Rep. Becky Carney, Rep. Michele Presnell, and Rep. Donna White (former employee of the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services who is on the House Aging Committee). The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee. It has 20 co-sponsors coming from both parties. Please take time to thank the bill sponsors and co-sponsors for their support.

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February 2017

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  • Legislation Filed to Cap Taxes - Coming as no surprise, Senate Republican leaders have introduced legislation again this session that would cap personal income taxes by amending the state constitution. Senate Bill 75 would prevent legislators from raising the income tax rate higher than 5.5% if voters approve the constitutional amendment in a ballot referendum that would be held during the November 2018 election. At this time, the constitution caps income tax rates at 10%. The current personal tax rate is 5.499% so the amendment would prevent any future tax hikes. The Bill is likely to face stiff opposition from Democrats and numerous advocacy group which argue that the amendment would prevent our legislature from having flexibility to set tax rates based on the state's needs and would limit flexibility and force cuts to services or shifts to other taxes.
  • Benton Named HHS Deputy Secretary – Although not officially announced by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, it is widely known that Mark Benton has been named as Deputy Secretary of the Department. Mark is no stranger to North Carolina state government. He previously held senior leadership positions in HHS including service as the State Medicaid Director, Senior Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Division of Medical Assistance, and as Assistant Director/Chief of Budget and Planning of the Division of Facility Services (now Division of Health Service Regulation). He also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Community Care of North Carolina and was with the Millbank Memorial Fund in New York for six years where he worked with elected and appointed officials from across the country and internationally on efforts to reduce health care costs, implement evidence-informed health policies and improve population health.

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January 2017 - News Edition

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  • House Democrats Select Leaders - Rep. Darren Jackson from Wake County has been selected as the House minority leader. He replaces Rep. Larry Hall from Durham who had been the House Democratic leader since 2013. He decided not to seek another term. Rep. Jackson is an attorney and has served District 39 since January of 2009. He has been a major opponent of HB 2. The House Democratic Caucus also elected three whips: Rep. Bobbie Richardson from Franklin County, Rep. Garland Pierce from Scotland County, and Rep. Verla Insko from Orange County.
  • Webinar on What's Ahead in the New Year at the Federal Level -Congress is back and the new Trump administration starts on January 20. With this new beginning lie many challenges and opportunities. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will likely be one of the first items on the agenda which includes threats to senior programs like Medicaid home and community based services, health coverage for the pre-Medicare population aged 55-64, and threats to programs like fall prevention and chronic disease management. On January 18 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., the National Council on Aging (NCOA) Public Policy and Advocacy team will hold a webinar to share information about what lies ahead and how aging advocates can add their voice to the discussion.

...Read the January News Edition