Lack of action dangerous for group homes

Dec. 11, 2012 @ 05:12 AM

So far, there has been little said by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue relating to the calling of a special session of the General Assembly.

That special session, requested by House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, has been asked to help address a funding gap that could affect group and care homes and leave up to 1,400 people without a home.

As of the weekend, Perdue has been silent on the prospect of calling the General Assembly back to fix wording in the current budget that could free up some $39 million in federal funding.

The budget approved during the summer set aside the $39 million to help only adult care homes with issues involving Medicaid reimbursements for personal care services. Smaller group homes, that house six to eight residents, were not included as qualified recipients for the money.

Much like the "fiscal cliff" issue facing Congress, the North Carolina General Assembly has until Dec. 31, 2012 to take action.

In an interview with The Daily Courier on Dec. 1, Debra Dihoff, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of North Carolina brought the message of inaction home when she said: "People can lose their homes over the holidays ... can you imagine that?"

The only thing that Perdue has said is in reference to Tillis' request, sent back on Nov. 30.

"As a result of the General Assembly’s budget, I have been reviewing all possible options to address this important issue including a Special Session," Perdue said. "I look forward to working with both the House and the Senate to fix the problem as soon as possible so that hundreds of North Carolinians are not out in the street at the end of the year.”

While she may look for a solution, she also didn't waste the opportunity to take a shot at Republicans that was unwarranted at best.

According to The Associated Press, House Democrats aren't looking for what Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, the incoming House minority leader, called a "costly special session." He suggested that Republicans and the governor should work out an agreement without calling back the Legislature.

However, state law prevents Perdue from moving money around in an approved budget unless revenues fall short of expenses, according to the North Carolina School of Government.

That is certainly not the case in this situation.

While House Democrats don't want a "costly special session," we are certain that 1,400 people don't want to lose their homes over the holiday because of language that can easily be fixed.

It is time for Perdue to do the right thing and call the General Assembly back to Raleigh for a special session and fix this situation.

There is no need to wait and taking no action on the issue leaves those North Carolinians with the potential of not having a home and the care they need.

That is far worse than the expense of having lawmakers return to do their jobs.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark