NCRGEA Coronavirus Legislative Update - April 19, 2020
The legislative building remains closed to the public, streets are empty and there is seldom a roll of toilet paper to be found. Despite this, members of the General Assembly are working around the clock to prepare a hefty COVID economic stimulus package. Members are also working appropriately address pandemic and post pandemic public policy matters, a complicated and seemingly endless list of issues.
While we cannot attend legislative meetings in person, our lobbying team is working with other organizations and agencies that share retiree issues. As the first waves of requests flow into the Appropriations Committee, we’re continuing to work with members to keep your quality of life stable in this upsetting time and to provide avenues to safeguard your health and wellbeing.
Some discussions of interest:
Trying to abate loneliness when we’re supposed to stay alone: Funds to provide technology (pads, smart phones, etc.) for assisted living and nursing home residents to communicate with their loved ones.
A request to “close the chemotherapy coverage gap: if ratified, this would allow cancer patients to access chemotherapy “in the safety of their own homes.” This is part of HB 480, North Carolina’s Oral Chemotherapy Fairness Act.
Making it easier to obtain an advanced health care directive. Currently in North Carolina, a notary AND two witnesses must be present and sign for a valid advanced health care directive. Legislators are looking at easing this to having a notary OR two witnesses to be present and sign the directive.
Providing telehealth by screen and by phone: the North Carolina Coalition on Aging has asked that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services allow audio only telehealth communication under the Medicare program.
COVID-19 specific requests and impacts:
Rep. Perrin Jones, a physician representing Pitt County (R) has asked to direct the development of a state plan to stockpile PPE. Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat, has asked to limit the movement of individuals being served in state facilities and group homes to reduce exposure to COVID-19.
We spoke with House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore’s office about potential cuts in government workforce. We were told that currently the State did not expect to furlough employees. “We’re not going to hurt personnel unless we absolutely have to,” a spokesman from Moore’s office said.
For the first time in North Carolina history both session committee meetings and floor sessions will be live streamed.
Lastly, we’re under enough stress already so the last thing we need is to get a ticket for an expired license tag! House and Senate leadership say they are working with Gov. Roy Cooper’s office to extend expirations on DMV tags.
We’ll be in touch early next week to discuss the ongoing legislative COVID-19 conversation and continue to work for your quality of life.