April 12, 2019
Closing the Coverage Gap
Top GOP healthcare leaders in the NC House introduced legislation this week to expand health care coverage to low income North Carolinians. HB655, “NC Health Care for Working Families,” would be open to those between the ages of 19-64 who meet all federal Medicaid citizenship and immigration requirements, but otherwise wouldn’t meet the NC Medicaid program eligibility criteria. Previously referred to as “Carolina Cares,” the revised legislation retains two controversial provisions, a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients and an assessment for health care systems and prepaid health plans (PHP) to pay for the state’s 10% share of additional administrative costs. Currently, Medicaid serves 2.14 million North Carolinians. Bill sponsors expect 543,000 Medicaid recipients to be covered if the bill becomes law.
Association Health Plans
A bipartisan group of House lawmakers are moving forward with their version of legislation that would give small businesses more flexibility to join together for better employee health insurance rates. HB464, “Small Business Health Care Act,” would allow sole proprietors and working owners to jointly purchase Association Health Plans (AHPs) through associations rather than being forced to buy individual market coverage. The House bill is similar to SB86 that passed the Senate late last month and has been referred to House Health. However, there are several significant differences between the two bills. HB464 would require sponsoring associations be in existence for at least 5 years compared to 2 years in the Senate version. Also, the House bill would require participating businesses to commit to staying in the sponsoring association for at least 2 years. Both bills require at least 500 employees for a business to be eligible for coverage. HB464 passed the House Insurance Committee on Thursday and has been referred to House Health.
Early Voting Underway in NC District-3
Early voting is underway in the special primary election to fill the vacancy in North Carolina’s Third Congressional District due to the recent passing of Congressman Walter B. Jones. The eastern NC district includes 17 counties and stretches from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville up to the Virginia boarder. Primary Election Day is April 30th and the General Election is July 9th. However, if no candidate receives more than 30% of the vote, a second Primary Election will be held on July 9th (a runoff), and the General Election will be on September 10th. Early voting ends on April 26th. 17 Republicans, 6 Democrats, 2 Libertarians, and 1 candidate from the Constitutional Party are vying for the opportunity to represent NC-3. Of those running, three are current members of the NC House of Representatives. A special Primary Election to fill the vacancy in NC’s Ninth Congressional District will be held on May 14th, with a General Election scheduled for September 10th. Should a runoff be needed in that district, a second Primary Election would be held on September 10th and the General Election on November 10th.
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