Legislators continued work on the budget bill this week and considered bills on a number of topics including sports wagering and Medicaid expansion.
State Budget Bill
With July 1 and the beginning of FY 23 approaching, legislative appropriation leaders have been meeting behind closed doors working on the details of a state budget bill. If a new budget bill is enacted, it would alter the two-year budget (S.L. 2021-180) enacted in November 2021, which covered both FYs 22 and 23. It appears the bill will surface as a conference committee report that has been agreed to in advance by the two chambers and cannot be amended. Some legislative leaders have indicated that the bill could surface as early as the week of June 27.
A bill (S 408) that could lead to expansion of Medicaid insurance coverage was unveiled on Thursday in the House Health Committee. Speaker Tim Moore is among House leaders that support it.
The bill would create a Joint Legislative Committee on Medicaid Rate Modernization and Savings that would hear a Medicaid Modernization Plan to be developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) by Dec. 15, 2022. The Committee would make recommendations on the plan and the General Assembly would act on all or part of it on or after Dec. 16, 2022.
The plan would add Medicaid coverage for adults aged 18-64 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level beginning on a date to be proposed by the Secretary of N.C. DHHS, increase hospital assessments to provide funding for the nonfederal share of the cost of the additional Medicaid coverage, propose legislation to enact increased hospital assessments to pay the nonfederal share of an increase to Medicaid hospital reimbursements through the Hospital Access and Stabilization Program (HASP), and include specific proposals to increase access to healthcare in rural areas. The bill also directs N.C. DHHS to pursue work requirements for the Medicaid program if there is an indication that such requirements would receive federal approval.
The Senate earlier passed a health care bill (H 149) that includes Medicaid expansion. That bill is pending in the House Rules Committee.
Gov. Roy Cooper and Senate leader Phil Berger have indicated support for expanding Medicaid coverage now instead of waiting for a legislative session later in the year.
In a vote that surprised many, the House on Wednesday defeated a bill that would have legalized online sports wagering in North Carolina.
Two interrelated sports wagering bills (S 688 and S 38) were considered in the House. S 688, described by one sponsor as “the platform bill,” would authorize, regulate and tax sports wagering in North Carolina. The Lottery Commission would be responsible for regulation and issuing licenses to involved parties. The bill creates and provides funding for the North Carolina Major Events, Games and Attractions Fund, which would be administered by the Department of Commerce to provide grants for local governments or nonprofit entities working with local governments to attract major entertainment, musical, political, sporting and theatrical events to stimulate economic activity and create jobs. S 38, among other things, amends certain provisions in S 688. It also allocates funds to various University of North Carolina System campuses for athletics and to county parks.
The House first considered S 38 and passed it by 51 to 50. It then defeated S 688 by 52 to 49.
Although S 688 was voted down, sports wagering proponents continue to look for ways to enact this idea during the 2022 session.