Lawmakers return to Raleigh with health policy wish lists

By Rose Hoban

Amid the smiles, photographs, receptions and family members crowding the legislative building in Raleigh on Wednesday, lawmakers involved in the making of health care policy said they were readying their lists of priorities for the legislative biennium that began this week.

The topmost issue on both sides of the aisle? The seemingly perennial issue of the past decade: whether North Carolina would ever join the majority of states and expand the Medicaid program to provide coverage for more than half a  million low income workers. 

Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) highlighted Medicaid expansion in an address after being elected as leader for the seventh time since 2011, saying it was one of the issues the legislature “must tackle.”

“I support expanding Medicaid in North Carolina,” he told a capacity crowd in the Senate chamber.

Berger spent a decade opposed to the measure, but he changed his stance in 2022. He shepherded his bill through the Senate last year, only to have it hit a dead end in the House of Representatives. 

“We must recognize that it is not a silver bullet,” he continued. “North Carolinians are saddled with some of the highest health care costs in the country. We need to eliminate regulatory red tape and other bureaucratic barriers that impede access to care and unnecessarily increase medical costs.”

Berger’s 2022 Medicaid expansion bill also included provisions that would 1) overhaul rules around hospital competition in North Carolina and 2) give advanced practice nurses more latitude to work independently of physicians.

In a media gathering after the swearing-in ceremony, Berger reiterated his position. 

“In order to get … the broad bipartisan support that we had for the Medicaid expansion bill that we had before, there have got to be some measures that address the supply side,” he told reporters. “If you’re going to give 500,000, 600,000 people an insurance card that says they have a right to have their medical care paid for, then we need to do something to hopefully open up more access to more primary care providers, more facilities where they can be treated.” 

Old differences could reemerge, though, as members of the House and Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain), the re-elected House speaker, talked about a “clean” Medicaid expansion bill that does not include mention of nurses or hospitals. 

Rep. Donny Lambeth (R–Winston-Salem) acknowledged that some of Berger’s concerns will need to be addressed

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Ga lawmakers move actions on taxes, voting and educational institutions | Well being and Exercise

ATLANTA (AP) — Ga lawmakers pushed by dozens of expenditures in a fast-fireplace conclusion to their 2022 session on Monday, offering a tax lower and banning training on “divisive concepts” in faculties. But lawmakers did not get up a evaluate that could have necessary physical tests right before a female could be recommended abortion supplements, turned down an growth of gambling and turned down an supplemental fork out elevate for them selves. Some critical proposals have already passed, which include a mental wellness reform evaluate, a loosening of gun legislation and a bill allowing mothers and fathers decide their youngsters out of school mask mandates. Other steps died earlier, including a monthly bill that would increase penalties for unlawful functions all through protests and an try to regulate social media.

Psychological Wellbeing: Dwelling Monthly bill 1013 aims to force insurers to shell out for psychological wellbeing and substance abuse therapy in the similar way they spend for other health care. The evaluate also permits a police officer to take another person for analysis after getting permission from a medical professional, as a substitute of arresting them for a crime.

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Fuel TAX Holiday break: Property Invoice 304, signed into legislation, suspended the state’s motor fuel taxes through May possibly 31, such as a levy of 29.1 cents for every gallon for gasoline and 32.6 cents per gallon for diesel. Suspending collections could subtract extra than $400 million from street building. The governor strategies to use aspect of very last year’s surplus to exchange the cash.

Profits TAX Reduce: The Dwelling and Senate agreed to build what would be an eventual flat 4.99% condition earnings tax in Dwelling Invoice 1437. The fee would be implemented in techniques in excess of a selection of many years, based on profits.

TRANSGENDER ATHLETES: The Ga Substantial College Association would be allowed to ban transgender boys and ladies from taking part in on the public college sporting activities teams matching their gender id beneath Property Monthly bill 1084.

Critical RACE Concept: Dwelling Invoice 1084 would ban the instructing of particular racial concepts that Republicans say are divisive. Opponents say the evaluate would frighten academics away from an genuine classroom dialogue of race in background and the current.

Income TAX REFUNDS: Dwelling Bill 1302, signed into law, offers $1.1 billion of income tax refunds which includes $250 to

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Arizona lawmakers seem to suppress government’s emergency powers | Health and Conditioning

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Republicans are looking to curtail the government’s unexpected emergency powers, which they say had been abused by elected officers from the governor on down in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their suggestions array from doing away with the electrical power to shutter enterprises or church buildings to demanding legislative acceptance for emergencies long lasting lengthier than 120 times.

Other proposals search to enhance the legal rights of persons to resist health and fitness protocols, this sort of as treating vaccination position the very same as race or sexual intercourse in employment nondiscrimination regulations. Employers also could experience significant fines if they fireplace a employee for refusing to get vaccinated, or if an worker is injured from a vaccine they get because of to a position mandate.

Injuries linked to COVID-19 vaccines have been incredibly rare with just below 540 million doses administered in the United States, in accordance to the Centers for Condition Management and Avoidance.

Many of the proposals superior as a result of Property and Senate committees this week, including expenses in the two chambers reducing the authority for mayors and county supervisors to purchase businesses shut during an emergency.

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Rep. Leo Biasucci, a Republican from Lake Havasu Metropolis who introduced the Dwelling version, mentioned he was appalled that mother-and-pop enterprise ended up pressured to shut for the duration of the early days of the pandemic even though massive chains like Walmart have been permitted to preserve their doorways open up. Walmart stayed open up due to the fact it sells essential things these kinds of as groceries.

“That was the 1st time I believe we’ve observed in record that businesses were explained to, ‘You should shut down,’” Biasucci said for the duration of a committee hearing. “And it was selective.”

There is a big difference concerning a everyday living-threatening circumstance and “something that will go on for several years underneath the guise of a pandemic,” stated Rep. Mark Finchem, a Republican from Oro Valley.

Democrats, echoing the sentiments of local government officials, stated the evaluate would choose absent vital authority that leaders need to answer to extraordinary emergencies.

“I imagine all emergencies are neighborhood and we ought to allow for the nearby company or authorities to make individuals selections since they’re nearer to the circumstance,” mentioned Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales, a Democrat from Tucson.

A House committee on Tuesday

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