On Monday, Governor Cooper vetoed two bills from the one-day extra session earlier this month. House Bill 770 and Senate Bill 16 included mostly regulatory changes. House Bill 770, titled “Various Clarifying Changes,” would fix what legislators are saying is a mistake in budget allocations for mental health agencies and reduce the number of appointments the governor can make to the NC Medical Board. Senate Bill 16 loosens water quality rules and limits local governments’ power over landfill permits. With these vetoes, the Governor has addressed all pending legislation on his desk.
Back in Session for Redistricting
Today, August 18, the General Assembly went back in session to provide members an update on redistricting. The House Select Committee on Redistricting announced a public hearing on August 22 regarding the new maps. The Redistricting Committee will vote on the maps Thursday, with the first House vote expected Friday, August 25. The final House vote will likely be Monday, August 28.
After a crowd in Durham pulled over a Confederate statue outside the old Durham County courthouse following the violent white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville last weekend, attention has focused on North Carolina’s law protecting monuments and statues. In 2015, Governor Pat McCrory signed the law that prevents removing, relocating or altering monuments, memorials, plaques and other markers that are on public property without permission from the N.C. Historical Commission.
On Tuesday, Governor Cooper called for the removal of around 100 Confederate monuments in North Carolina. The Governor also asked the North Carolina legislature to defeat HB330, a bill that grants civil and criminal immunity to motorists who unintentionally hit people in the middle of the street, including protesters. The bill passed the state House and remains in the Senate.
Congress is in recess until September 5. When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day, it will focus on approving additional appropriations bill, raising the debt limit, and reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, all before the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
Veterans Choice Appropriations Bill
On Saturday, President Trump signed S. 114 VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 into act, providing $2.1 billion in funding to continue the Veterans Choice Program. Extended in April and authorized under the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, the program allows some veterans to receive primary care, inpatient and outpatient specialty care and mental health care from non-VA providers, rather than waiting for a VA appointment or travelling to a VA facility. The House and Senate unanimously approved the funding bill.
CMS Proposes Cancelling Mandatory Pay Models
After providers requested to have more input into the models’ design, the CMS announced on Tuesday a proposed rule to cancel two bundled-payment models and cut down on providers required to participate in a third. The proposed rule would cancel the Episode Payment Models and the Cardiac Rehabilitation incentive payment model. The rule also scales back the number of mandatory geographic areas participating in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) program from 67 to 34. The new proposal now excludes low-volume hospitals, with fewer than 20 joint replacements over three years, in the remaining mandatory areas starting in February. Comments on the proposed rule are due October 17.
Senator Burr Staff Visit
Senator Burr’s new Military Legislative Assistant, Cole Lyle, will be at Duke University and Duke University Health System today to visit with faculty and staff involved in defense-related research. Cole will be seeing first-hand Duke’s Department of Defense research collaborations and he will be connecting with Duke’s national security policy experts. His visit is a collaborative effort with our office and the Duke University Government Relations office.
340B Rule Delayed
On Thursday, the HHS announced to delay a rule that would set new ceiling prices in the 340B discount program. The rule would also allow HHS to issue fines against drug manufacturers that intentionally charge a hospital more than the ceiling price. It was supposed to take effect in April, but is now delayed until July 2018.