The General Assembly continued work on substantive legislation this week, with several high profile bills involving health care moving forward. In another health care story, Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, and Wake Forest University announced plans to negotiate a merger of the hospital systems and to bring a second campus of the Wake Forest School of Medicine to Charlotte. In the House, 115 bills were filed this week (the bill filing deadline has passed in the Senate).
State and Legislative Issues
On Wednesday, Senate Bill 168 passed the Senate by a vote of 42-4. The bill would expand the allowable uses of CBD oil in the State. Under current State law, the only authorized use of CBD oil in North Carolina is as a treatment for intractable epilepsy. Senate Bill 168 would expand the allowable uses to include treatment for autism, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Mitochondrial disease, or a medical condition diagnosed by a neurologist for which currently available treatment options have been ineffective.
On Tuesday, House Republicans announced a plan to expand Medicaid in North Carolina. The plan would extend coverage to about 540,000 additional people. Under the proposal, newly covered individuals would be required to pay premiums equal to 2% of their income and to either work or participate in job training programs. Democrats have generally favored an expansion of Medicaid without the work or premiums requirements. Senate Republicans remain skeptical of either proposal to broadly expand Medicaid.
In new environment, Republicans pitch Medicaid expansion (Raleigh News & Observer)
Cherokee Sports Betting
On Tuesday, the Senate overwhelming passed Senate Bill 154. The bill would authorize the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to conduct sports betting and betting on horse racing on the reservation. The Cherokee already have the authority to conduct casino-style gaming on the reservation. The authorization of betting on the reservation could have big financial impacts – the Tribe stands to gain up to $14 million annually in new revenues while the State could see an increase of $1 million annually in revenues from betting.
Sports gambling is one step closer to being legal, at least in one part of North Carolina (Raleigh News & Observer)
The state’s four largest school districts have joined the list of districts that have cancelled classes on May 1 due to a teacher protest to take place in Raleigh. The scheduled protest is the second in as many years. Last year’s protest brought an estimated 20,000 teachers and supporters to downtown Raleigh.
Wake County schools will close May 1 due to teacher protest in Raleigh (Raleigh News & Observer)
CMS cancels classes for May 1 because of planned teacher protest in Raleigh (Charlotte Observer)
Here are the NC school districts closing May 1 due to teachers rally in Raleigh (Raleigh News & Observer)
Local Issues – Charlotte
Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Wake Forest University have announced their intent to combine into a new health care system and to bring a medical school to Charlotte. The preliminary agreement, which was announced Wednesday, allows the groups to start negotiations, with the goal of entering into a final deal about the new health care system later this year. Currently, Charlotte is the largest city in the country without a medical school.