By Rose Hoban
In one of the first acts of the new legislative session, House Republicans have filed a bill to fix the funding problem that has loomed over group homes for people with intellectual and mental health disabilities since last summer.
House Bill 5 gives group homes access to money set aside during last year’s legislative session to help adult care homes weather transitions in the state’s Medicaid reimbursement for personal care services provided in the homes.
“Whoo hoo,” said Julia Adams, with a smile. Adams is the assistant director of governmental affairs for the Arc of North Carolina, and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Seriously, we’re very pleased with the actions taken by Representatives Dollar, Burr, and House Speaker Tillis for quickly addressing the crisis for people in group homes and our people who live in them with mental health issues and developmental disabilities,” Adams said.
“They said they’d do it on the first day, and they did,” she said.
The bill allows owners of group homes to tap into a $39.7 million fund established in last year’s budget bill that is intended to help adult care homes remain solvent as they adjust to changes in the state’s Medicaid program. But a last minute change to that bill excluded group home operators from tapping into the fund.
Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Cary), said the bill heads to the appropriations committee Wednesday evening and then back to the House floor on Thursday to be voted on. Then it will go to the Senate side of the legislative building.
In December, former governor Bev Perdue found $1 million in temporary money to keep the group homes funded through the end of January. Once February begins, owners will not be able to bill for personal care services such as assistance bathing, dressing, feeding and toileting.