The 2021 NC long legislative session is slowly coming to an end with legislators trying to shore up some of the State's biggest political priorities that include the state budget and redistricting.
The state budget is the proverbial football in the classic Charlie Brown comic strip. The ball is always poised to be kicked by the ever optimistic Charlie Brown but Lucy denies Charlie Brown the kick, time and time again. As North Carolina moves closer to the middle of October, aides, lobbyists and political insiders all believe a state budget is imminent but, like Charlie Brown's football, or bigfoot, we have yet to see one.
News out this week suggests that some of the hold-up may be Republican's willingness to consider the inclusion of some form of Medicaid expansion. The federal government is dangling a $1.7 billion dollar federal funds carrot in front of the State as an incentive to pass Medicaid expansion. It seems that this carrot may be enough to soften the political opposition to expansion. Additionally, a bill that would extend postpartum Medicaid has been introduced and maternal health advocates are lobbying for this bill to be considered as a provision of the state budget. A provision in the Senate budget, but not included in the budget created by the House of Representatives, would allow pregnant people with incomes at or below 196 percent of the federal poverty guidelines - about $34,800 for a family of two - to remain eligible for coverage for 12 months postpartum.
The legislative focus will continue to be the State Budget with all other legislative priorities winding down. The legislative committee has moved to an abbreviated schedule by postponing our weekly meetings and having ad-hoc on-demand meetings as new legislative priorities related to healthcare are introduced.
We will see you next month, and hopefully by then, we will have a budget to discuss!