North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

July 28, 2023

Pardon Our Dust

We recently launched this new site and are still in the process of updating some of our archived content. Some details of this article may be incomplete, links may be broken, and other elements may not display properly yet. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

No legislative business was conducted this week, as leaders from the House and Senate continue to negotiate a state budget deal. The sticking point between the two chambers continues to be over income tax reductions and whether to use the state’s revenue surplus to move billions into state reserves. However, as the weeks pass, some groups have become concerned that without a budget, Medicaid expansion will not be enacted, teachers and state employees will not get the raises they were promised, and public schools will not have access to critical enrollment growth funds. This week, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told reporters there is a backup plan if no budget negotiation is reached. “The Plan B,” Moore said, is to adopt a “mini budget, which will then take into account pay raises, enrollment growth, Medicaid rebates. Basically, those things that aren’t really controversial, but need to get done to keep the government functioning.” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) also told reporters last week that mini budgets were under consideration. Pay raises for teachers and state employees are a top priority, as those amounts have already been agreed to.

Medicaid Expansion Delays

In March, the General Assembly passed HB 76: Access to Healthcare Options, which would set the state up to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. However, lawmakers tied the actual funding of Medicaid expansion, through the drawing down of federal funds, to passage of a state budget. With the state budget still being debated between the Senate and House, there has been no action taken regarding the implementation of expansion, concerning state health officials. Already this year, nearly 9,000 North Carolinians have been removed from Medicaid coverage due to pandemic rules ending. Most of those individuals would have remained on the Medicaid roster had expansion gone into effect and will return to being covered once the expansion plan is implemented, according to state health officials.

This week, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley stated that agreements with the federal government have been reached to begin the processes necessary to expand Medicaid in North Carolina beginning on October 1. The October 1 start date can happen as long as his agency receives formal authority by elected officials to move forward by September 1, Kinsley said. Otherwise, the next start date could be much later, even potentially extending into 2024.

Governor Roy Cooper and fellow Democratic lawmakers have continued to urge Republican legislative leadership to “de-couple” Medicaid expansion from passage of the state budget. The legislature has not held votes in weeks while budget negotiations continue. Lawmakers are currently scheduled to return to Raleigh during the week of August 7.

Secretary Kinsley continues to work with House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). Both leaders reportedly agree with moving forward with the October 1 start date for expansion. Speaker Moore stated this week, “I’m told as long as we get this done before the end of August, that we should be fine, with no issues.”

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, July 31

10:00 AM: House Session
3:00 PM: Senate Session