We must take measures to keep our people strong and healthy. My colleagues and I agree Medicaid costs -an estimated $500 million this fiscal year- are a huge burden for counties to bear. The state will take over the counties' share of Medicaid costs in a three-year phase out. Counties will have extra money for school construction and other local needs without raising property taxes. This method protects our small counties and rural counties with a large number of people on Medicaid. We are very proud of this Medicaid swap. Every county will end up with at least $500,000 more than they would have had otherwise.
Small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees will receive a tax credit that will both lower employers' costs of providing insurance and increase the number of insured people. We also gave
We appreciate the hard work of our senior citizens to build a strong foundation for this state and worked to show them our thanks through this budget. We set aside $7 million to provide a tax credit for families that purchase long-term care insurance and $250,000 in grants for community groups that help seniors enrolling in state and federal prescription drug plans. We established a rating system for adult care homes so families will have a better way to judge and compare these facilities. We also allocated $2 million to expand the state Health Care Personnel Registry, which will now include information on unlicensed personnel who work with patients.
This budget includes $4.6 million to improve and expand community-based treatment and support services for those with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse disorders. We appropriated $2 million for HIV prevention programs in local health departments and historically black colleges and universities, $2 million for screenings for breast and cervical cancer, $8.3 million to purchase and store 635,000 doses of flu vaccines, and $500,000 to reduce health disparities among whites and minority groups. The Healthy Carolinians initiative will receive $1 million to help local health departments lower rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and infant mortality. The