The General Assembly was full of activity this week with various committees acting on a myriad of policy legislation as the legislature looks to wind down committee work ahead of adjournment as early as the end of this month. Although there was speculation it could be unveiled as soon as this week, no 2022-23 budget was made public as House and Senate leaders continue to negotiate a new spending plan. Speaker of the House, Rep. Tim Moore, also indicated his intention for the House to vote on a budget next week. However, there have also been indications that, should the House and Senate not agree on a new spending plan, the General Assembly would simply allow last year's two-year spending plan to remain in place. Speaker Moore also indicated his intention that all business for the short session will likely conclude next week as well.
On Thursday, the House unveiled its plan regarding Medicaid expansion in the state. Unlike a plan approved by the Senate earlier in the short session, House Bill 408 Rural Healthcare Access & Savings Plan Act does not immediately expand Medicaid in North Carolina. The bill creates a Joint Legislative Committee on Medicaid Rate Modernization and Savings to consider a Medicaid Modernization Plan to be developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and contains other specific requirements as laid out in the bill. Under the legislation, the General Assembly must act on the Medicaid Modernization Plan on or after December 16, 2022.
The House bill puts the two General Assembly chambers at odds over a plan to expand Medicaid and it is unknown if the two sides can come to an agreement on a path forward before the close of the short session. Earlier this session, the Senate approved House Bill 149 Expanding Access to Healthcare which, if approved by the House and signed into law, expands Medicaid coverage for roughly 600,000 North Carolinians. That piece of legislation also amended laws related to Certificate of Need (CON) and contained other healthcare regulatory reforms. Those provisions were not part of the House bill above.
Perhaps the most fascinating issue to watch this week was the House debate to legalize online sports gambling. Senate Bill 688 Sports Wagering, legalizing and setting up the regulatory structure for online sports wagering, failed on the House floor by a vote of 50-51 just minutes after another bill, Senate Bill 38 Sports Wagering Amendments amending Senate Bill 688 should it become law, was approved 51-50. The issue isn't dead yet and could resurface before the end of the legislative short session. Governor Cooper has previously expressed his support for online sports wagering.
To read about other legislation considered this week at the General Assembly that has county impacts, click here