House passage of HB 683 Occupational Therapy/Choice of Provider.

NCOTA worked to secure bill sponsors, gain committee support and achieve House passage of HB 683 this session. HB 638 would ensure that patients have the right to choose their occupational therapists under their health benefit plan. The North Carolina choice of provider statute lists various professional health providers but has never listed occupational therapists. HB 638 was sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Avila (Wake County), Rep. Hugh Blackwell (Burke County), Rep. Pat Hurley (Randolph County) and Rep. Yvonne Holley. Please take the time to reach out to these House sponsors to thank them for their support of this bill. These legislators worked closely with NCOTA to ensure the bill’s House passage.

Because the bill passed the House before the crossover deadline, it will still be eligible to be considered by the Senate during the upcoming 2016 short session that begins in April. You can find contact information for your legislators by clicking here.

General Assembly Adopts Autism Bill

In the last week of session, the House of Representatives passed SB 676 Autism Health Insurance Coverage. This legislation directs health insurance plans under state regulation to cover services for the diagnosis and treatment for people with autism disorders. It also allows insurers to stop coverage at age 18 and set a coverage ceiling of $40,000 per year.

Occupational therapists are specifically included in the Autism Coverage bill. Occupational therapists are included in the general list of eligible providers and are also specifically mentioned in the definition of “therapeutic care”.

Medicaid Reform

The General Assembly also addressed Medicaid reform this session through HB 372. The new Medicaid system will allow three for-profit managed care companies to compete on a statewide basis with up to ten nonprofit accountable care organizations or provider-led entities that will be contracted to offer regional Medicaid services. The Medicaid payment model would also change from paying for each medical procedure to paying providers on a capitated basis. This legislation also establishes a new Division of Health Benefits as a new division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

As an occupational therapist, you advocate on behalf of your clients on a daily basis.  NCOTA is here to advocate for you and the individuals you serve at the North Carolina General Assembly.  NCOTA monitors health policy discussions and proposed legislation at the North Carolina General Assembly during the legislative session and also during the legislative interim. Before the General Assembly convenes for its 2017 long session in January, we will update NCOTA members on discussions and recommendations by the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services.  We will also update members on news related to recent Medicaid reform efforts in North Carolina.