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AP catches Dollar rewriting his role in group home crisis

A Sunday story [1] by AP’s Michael Biesecker appears to catch Rep. Nelson Dollar in a blatant falsehood about why the state now faces a crisis that that threatens to throw 1,400 people with mental illness out of group homes and into homelessness.

The story details how a last minute change to the technical corrections bill in the last legislative session banned group homes from receiving any money from emergency funds set aside to keep thousands of people with a mental illness from being thrown out of their beds in certain facilities because of the state response to a federal ruling about who was eligible for benefits.

The legislative change meant only people in adult care homes would be allowed to stay with the new money, leaving the 1,400 people in group homes at risk. 

Then when the crisis became public Republicans predictably blamed Gov. Perdue, as the AP story documents.

Republican leaders, including Gov.-elect Pat McCrory, initially blamed the Perdue administration for not providing the needed money for group homes. But Republican legislators drafted and approved the 2013 budget, overriding a veto from the outgoing Democratic governor…

…Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Republican from Cary, has suggested they were never told group home residents were at risk. Dollar is a co-chair of the committee that oversees the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and is one of the chief Republican budget writers in the House.

But it turns out Dollar did know that the 1,400 people were in danger.

But an exchange of emails released by the state department through a public records request suggests Dollar was informed. On June 27, five days before the technical corrections bill was ratified, Deputy Secretary for Health Services Beth Melcher emailed Dollar and legislative staffers that group homes would be affected by the Medicaid changes.

The AP story also suggests a motivation for Dollar to exclude the people in group homes and then to try to distort the record about how he did it.

Asked this week whether the legislation had been changed to exclude group homes at the request of lobbyists for the adult care home industry, Dollar replied: “I don’t have an answer for you on that. We talked to a lot of people.”

Dollar is rumored to be under consideration by Governor-elect Pat McCrory for apppointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services.