Interim committee meetings have been taking place, including two on which I serve, the Health Care Reform Review and the Health Services committees.
Health Care Reform Review members have the responsibilities to implement the state provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as required by federal law. Regardless of whether or not there is support for it, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is the law, and North Dakota must do what is required according to the federal law's schedule and rules. Michael Leavitt, former Governor of Utah and former Secretary of Health and Human Services, spoke at the first meeting about what he sees as the best approaches for states which need to do what is required, but want to do no more than the minimum, which still will be costly. There are many areas which need to be addressed, but one of the first topics of committee work is how to set up the health insurance exchange which will permit citizens to check on eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If those are not options, the next step in the exchange is to be provided information on all of the private insurance options which will be available, costs, and what, if any subsidies will be available to them. The eligibility system for Medicaid and CHIP alone which would replace the current process is expected to cost about $44 million. This committee must have a proposal prepared for consideration by the special session of the legislature in November of this year.
The Health Services committee will consider workforce needs for health professionals in the state and what expansions might be needed in our educational programs, including the UND Medical School. As our population grows and ages, we will need more nurses, physicians, physical and occupational therapists, dentists, and other healthcare workers. Another study topic is reviewing the regional public health unit pilot program set up last biennium which permitted several public health units to collaborate on joint services in several areas. Not only would there be cost savings, but there would be more consistent services provided throughout the state. Currently the large, urban area public health units, such as Fargo Cass Public Health, provide a broad variety of services from immunizations to septic inspections. In rural areas, there may be only one employee in a public health unit who is only able to provide the most basic services. Particularly with all of the issues being created by the flooding throughout the state, public health services are critical to help ensure water quality, septic and sewer system integrity, mold mitigation, and much more. If several districts can pool their limited resources to hire an environmental officer, for example, more citizens would have access to inspections and recommendations. It is very important that similar services be available to all citizens, regardless of where they live.
Does the state owe you money? You may have money coming, but you don't even know it. You can log onto the North Dakota Land Office's website at www.land.nd.gov. Click on "Unclaimed Property Division", then click on "To search for unclaimed property by name or city...." The minimum amount which anyone has coming is $50, so it's worth checking out. If you do not have access to a computer, you can call 701-328-2800 for information on filing a claim. I checked the website and there were several familiar names on the West Fargo list, so give it a try. You or someone you know may have a claim.
Your District 13 legislators always want to hear your views. Contact us through our website at www.district13republicans.com or as follows: Senator Judy Lee, 282-6512, email@example.com; Rep. Kim Koppelman, 282-9267, firstname.lastname@example.org; Rep. Alon Wieland, 282-9470, email@example.com.