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Three legislative oversight committees met this week to discuss several pending issues for the 2016 “Short Session.”
House Select Committee on Step Therapy Hears Public Testimony
The House Select Committee on Step Therapy met for the first time on Monday, December 14, 2015. The Committee is studying step therapy, a prescriptionbenefit management tool, and its impact on patient access to health care in NC. According to a press release from the committee’s chair, Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), the committee willlook at the savings achieved by utilization of the practice by health insurance companies, the potential abusive practices, and perform a cost-benefitanalysis on patient protections that could be implemented in order to curb abuses of step therapy. The committee also plans to assess the impact steptherapy has potentially preventing the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. Rep. Lewis was a co-sponsor for H821, Proper Administration of Step Therapy, filed inthe 2015 “Long Session.” The bill was last referred to the House Rules Committee.
On Monday, the committee heard testimony from patients who have gone through the step therapy process and patient advocacy organizations, including theNational Psoriasis Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation of NC, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation. The individuals and organizations spoke onsome of the struggles they have faced while navigating the step therapy process, including months to years of negative side effects and ineffectivetreatments.
Additionally, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Express Scripts, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses testified at the meeting. Overall,the three companies stated that step therapy is an essential cost control tool for health insurance companies to possess and that for the majority ofpatients, most end up staying on the lower-cost drug without any side effects.
The House Select Committee will likely meet again in January.
Click hereto see the members serving on the committee.
Program Evaluation Oversight Committee Meets to Discuss the Economic Development Tiers System
Also meeting on Monday, December 14, 2015, the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee met to review the State’s Economic DevelopmentTiers System. The Committee received a presentation on the newly-released report, NC Should Discontinue the Economic Development Tiers System and Reexamine Strategies to Assist Communities with Chronic Economic Distress, from theNCGA’s Program Evaluation Division.
The report produced three findings: 1) distributing state funding based on the economic development tiers system does not provide the greatest benefit tothe most distressed counties; 2) components of the current tiers system distort identification of economic distress; and 3) it has been 30 years since theGeneral Assembly undertook a comprehensive study of ways to assist communities with chronic economic distress.
As a result of those findings, the PED recommended the following action items: 1) eliminate the use of the economic development tiers system for allnon-economic development programs by July 1, 2017; 2) end the use of the tiers system for all economic development programs by July 1, 2018; and 3)establish a commission to reexamine the State’s strategy for identifying and assisting chronically distressed communities.
The Committee voted to have legislative staff draft legislation based on the PED’s recommendations.
Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning & Long Term Funding Solution Meets to Discuss Subcommittees and Committee Agenda
On Tuesday, December 15, the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning & Long Term Funding Solutions met, chaired by Rep. JohnTorbett (R-Gaston). The Committee discussed its organizational structure, mission, and goals. Through the interim the Committee will consider:
- Project delivery times and what can be done to expedite on the state, federal, and environmental levels;
- New and innovative ways for cold weather paving;
- New and innovative funding streams;
- New technologies, including autonomous vehicles on state roads;
- Future innovations, focusing on the generational shift of how people get around; and
- What transportation will look at in the next 25 years.
The Committee divided into four subcommittees: Primary, Secondary, Public Transit & Aviation, and Port & Rail.
The Primary subcommittee will study the interstate system and roads that served as primary roads before the interstate system, I-95 waivers, funding, theI-77 project, and review the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law. Representative Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) will chair the Primary subcommittee.
The Secondary subcommittee will examine connectivity and will be chaired by Representative Paul Tine (U-Dare).
The Public Transit & Aviation subcommittee will be chaired by Representative Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg). The Public Transit & Aviationsubcommittee will review light rail opportunities, including expansion in Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, potential guidelines for public transit projects,economic growth through aviation, such as HondaJet in Greensboro and the airport in Concord, as well as the impact of FAA guidelines on state projects.
The Port & Rail subcommittee will study opportunities to boost revenue through the expansion and modernization of the state’s ports, including issuesregarding dredging. Representative Phil Shepard (R-Onslow) will chair the Port & Rail subcommittee. The subcommittee hopes to bring agri-businessleaders, NC Chamber, NC Ports Association, NC Railroad Association, and universities into its discussions.
The full committee and its subcommittees will meet again on Monday, January 4, 2015.
Click hereto see the members serving on the committee.