Senator Harry Brown
Jones and Onslow Counties- 6th District
300-B Legislative Office Building
300 N. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
March 28, 2013
The rapid pace at the General Assembly has continued this week as bill filing deadlines approached and the budget process began. Appropriations subcommittees are currently hearing state agency and department presentations of the Governor’s budget. We plan to vote on our budget bill sometime in May and hope to have a compromise conference report with the House passed before the end of the fiscal year.
With health care costs rising and state Medicaid spending consuming an ever-increasing portion of the state’s budget, we must move closer to a system that rewards high-quality, low-cost care. Wednesday, I filed Senate Bill 473, Health Care Cost Reduction and Transparency Act of 2013, aimed at improving medical billing transparency, reducing health care costs and helping consumers make better-informed decisions about their treatment. The bill will require hospitals and outpatient surgery centers to disclose all treatment costs associated with the top 50 most common procedures performed at their facilities. The information will be published via the North Carolina Health Information Exchange. The bill also prevents hospitals and outpatient surgery centers from charging patients twice for radiology services provided once and:
- · Requires every hospital to disclose its annual charity care spending and display its charity care policy, both on its website and on-site at the facility;
- · Eliminates the ability of state-owned hospitals to garnish tax refunds for unpaid hospital bills, allowing patients to pursue legitimate billing questions and disputes through the legal system;
- · Restructures the state’s hospital assessment to provide additional funding for hospitals with low average monthly total Medicaid costs, providing an incentive to deliver more efficient care to Medicaid beneficiaries; and
- · Modifies membership criteria for the Community Care of North Carolina Board of Directors to ensure more balanced representation of those who provide health care and those who pay for it.
During Wednesday’s session I filed Senate Bill 491, Permitting of Wind Energy. This establishes a permitting process that will ensure that military, natural and cultural resource interests are considered prior to permits being issued for wind turbines. This is important because we want to make sure no turbines are erected in flight patterns which make our bases less viable. I also introduced legislation to address another issue that could have a negative impact on training at our bases. Senate Bill 389, Land Use Surrounding Military Installations, would regulate the height of buildings and structures in areas surrounding military bases in North Carolina. With another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) approaching, it is important to do what we can to protect our bases.
My bill, Senate Bill 58, Increase Funding for Dredging, is tentatively scheduled for hearing in next week’s Senate Finance committee. I appreciate all of the input many of you provided on this issue. Dredging is important to the economy in our area and coming up with the right solution for dredging our shallow draft inlets like the New River Inlet and Bogue Inlet is one of my top priorities in the legislature.
I also filed a resolution to honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and those who have given their lives in defense of all of the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis. This resolution will be read on the Senate floor in May during National Military Appreciation Month. I hope to have a great military presence at the legislature the day the resolution is presented on the floor.
Wednesday was “Town Hall Day” at the legislature and Mayor McKinley D. Smith, Town Clerk Doreen Putney and Town Administrator Gregg Whitehead from Richlands, as well as, Commissioner Junior Freeman and David Pearson from Swansboro stopped by my office to discuss issues important to the district. It is always nice to see friendly faces from back home here in Raleigh.
Rebecca Chisholm, daughter of John and Amy Chisholm of Jacksonville, served as a Senate Page this week. I hope she enjoyed her time in Raleigh and learned a lot about the legislative process. Last year, Rebecca and I were partners for “Dancing Stars of Jacksonville” which raised money for the Onslow Women’s Center, a center that helps provide a safe haven and services for residents in need. This was a great experience and I encourage you all to attend this year’s event.
We are ready to assist you with any questions, ideas or concerns you might have. You may contact the office via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (919) 715-3034. If you need to contact me in the district, my number is (910) 347-3777.