Legislative Tidbits by Gail Stelger

What would you like to know?

Here is some brief information on updates from LeadingAge PA. If you would like some more in depth information, please feel free to call me at 717-624-7715 or 610-392-1313 (cell) or e-mail me at gailstelger@hotmail.com. If you want the whole story, contact Anne Henry at anne@leadingagepa.org or 717-790-3949.

Special Tidbit Announcements for March

3/18/2017 - PARCR Admin

Please read the two announcements from LeadingAge PA: 2017 Legislative Breakfasts scheduled for April – May and Fraud alert: HHS OIG hotline telephone scam.

Anne Henry, Senior VP & Chief Government Affairs Officer, has noted that when attending the legislative breakfast in your area, there are opportunities for having a positive impact. If you have a personal story of someone you know who has required nursing home care, it is recommended you let your representative know the story and how important it is to adequately fund these services for their constituents. Personal stories emphasize how 24 hour care is required for many people who cannot be adequately cared for at home with services.

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February Tidbits

2/21/2017 - PARCR Admin

LeadingAge PA reported the following information the day that Governor Wolf announced his fiscal year 2017-2018 budget proposal.

On February 7, 2017, Governor Wolf announced his proposed budget for state fiscal year 2017-2018 before a joint session of the General Assembly. The Governor started by discussing a number of issues that he touted as successes for Pennsylvania during his two years as Governor. These issues include reform of the liquor control system, passage of the medical marijuana law, addressing the underfunding of the school system, increasing funds to fight the opioid epidemic and the creation of 82,000 more jobs in Pennsylvania than before his tenure.

The Governor then went on to say that there is still more work to be done if Pennsylvania is to close the structural deficit, but he claimed that solutions must be responsible and put schools and seniors first. In his efforts to put schools first, the Governor proposed $125M additional funding for all levels of education. The Governor also stated that through efficiencies his $32.3 billion proposal includes savings of more than $2 billion - although the details on the savings are difficult to determine at this point.

As for the Governor's claim that he is putting seniors first, it is difficult to unravel as the Governor's budget proposal merges the funding of the Departments of Aging, Health, Human Services and Drug & Alcohol Programs. For our nursing facility members, the Long Term Care Line Item is merged with most if not all of what had previously been Department of Aging Programs. This merging of numbers makes it difficult at this point to determine exactly what the numbers might mean. That said, it does not appear that the Governor included a rate increase in his proposal.

What is apparent is that the Long Term Care or "Nursing Facility" line item will over time become the Community HealthChoices line item. Moneys from the Aging Waiver as well as the other home and community-based waivers that serve individuals with physical disabilities have been moved from individual line items into long term care for community health choices.

For our LIFE providers, an additional $7 million in state funds is included in the Governor's proposal to serve an additional 600 individuals plus $7.1 million to expand the program to an additional nine counties.

LeadingAge PA will provide further information on the specifics of the Governor's proposal as they become available.

Read a Message from Ron Barth, President and CEO of LeadingAge PA.

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Tidbits for the New Year 2017

2/1/2017 - PARCR Admin

The Department of Heath Services and Aging Announced the delay in Community Health Choices implementation. The implementation will now begin January 1, 2018 in the Southwest region; July 1, 2018 in the Southeast region; and January 1, 2019 in the remainder of the state (as previously planned).

The 2017-2018 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly officially started on, January 3, 2017, when members of both the House and Senate were sworn into office. While there are 28 new freshman, 6 in the Senate and 22 in the House, there are little changes in the leadership. The only new leader is Stan Saylor (R-York) who was elected chair of the House Appropriations Committee following the retirement of Bill Adolph (R-Delaware). The other change of committee chair that is relevant to LeadingAge PA is the Senate Health and Human Services Committee which will now be led by Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) following the retirement of Pat Vance (R-Cumberland). The LeadingAge PA Government Affairs team is scheduling legislative breakfast across the state for spring. More details will be shared as plans are finalized.

At the January 11, 2017 Quarterly PARCR Meeting, Scott and Steve Dardick from AIA Benefits Resource Group gave a presentation titled Understanding Medicare and Jennifer Holcomb, Director of Memory Support at Cross Keys Village - The Brethren Home Community presented on Memory Support Today and Tomorrow. The power point presentations can be seen on the PARCR website.

The General Assembly came back in session Monday, January 23 through Wednesday, January 25, 2017. According to LeadingAge PA 's report, as an open solvo to the budget, House Republicans led by Stan Saylor (R, York), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced HB 218. LeadingAge PA is currently reviewing the bill to determine Medicaid funding for long-term care and will provide additional information at a later date.

As a reminder, the Governor will unveil his budget proposal on Tuesday, February 7. There is no information on this time regarding what the Governor will include in his proposal for long-term care and senior service providers The LeadingAge Government Affairs team will closely monitor the budget process and provide you with information as it becomes available.

On January 27, 2017, LeadingAge PA participated on a conference call with Governor Wolf’s office regarding his intention to form a brand new state agency which will bring together the Departments of Health, Human Services, Aging and Drug & Alcohol Programs into the Department of Health & Human Services. This change is being made in order to better serve Pennsylvanians as well as to provide efficiency in state government. All affected state agency staff were also informed of this change the same day. A public announcement will be made early next week and further details will be shared in the Governor’s Budget address on February 7, 2017. LeadingAge PA will inform you as further detail becomes available.

Save the Dates! LeadingAge PA's 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition happens June 21-23 in Hershey. This year's theme? CONNECT.

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Tidbits for Medicare Open Enrollment and Voting Information

10/28/2016 - PARCR Admin

Medicare Open Enrollment Reminder

Medicare's annual open enrollment period began Saturday, October 15th and continues until Wednesday, December 7th. Any new coverage selected takes effect January 1st, 2017. To assist beneficiaries, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging APPRISE program offers educational events and counseling. Pennsylvania's APPRISE counselors are trained to help Pennsylvanians understand their Medicare benefits, sort through their options to find the best one for them, and successfully complete the enrollment process. Upcoming events

Voting Information

You may still request an absentee ballot and also get further information on how to vote via absentee ballot. In Pennsylvania, the absentee ballot application must be requested by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1st, and received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 4th.

Pennsylvanians will be voting or U.S. president/vice-president, one of two U.S. Senate seats, U.S. House of Representatives, half of the state Senate and the entire state House of Representatives. Pennsylvanians will also be voting for state-wide offices: attorney general, auditor general and state treasurer.

Here's what you need to know about casting ballots in the upcoming election:

  • Polling times: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Polling loctions: Search your voting location on the state voting website.
  • Voter identification: Needed only if voting in a precinct for the first time.

If you have any questions, please contact Ana Meyers at (717) 790-3948 or ana@leadingagepa.org.

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Tidbits for the Fall of 2016

10/12/2016 - PARCR Admin

DOH releases Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force Report

On Oct. 4, the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Karen Murphy, with the Department of Aging (PDA) Secretary Teresa Osborne and Attorney General Bruce Beemer, released the recommendations of the Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force. More...

LeadingAge PA will review the report and work with DOH as it looks to implement the recommendations of the report.

Senate and House adjourned for two weeks

Both the Senate and the House were in session the week of September 26, 2016 for three days but have now adjourned for two weeks. They will return to Harrisburg on Oct. 17 and currently have six voting session days remaining on the calendar for the 2015-16 legislative session. The 2015-16 legislative session will officially adjourn on Nov. 30. Any bills that haven’t been passed into law will “die” and will need to be reintroduced next session if they are to be considered.

Six MCOs protest DHS’ selection of Community HealthChoices vendors

Six losing bidders are protesting the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' (DHS) selection of the three Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) that will provide long-term services and supports under the commonwealth’s Community HealthChoices program.

The MCO’s selected are:

  • AmeriHealth Caritas
  • Pennsylvania Health and Wellness(Centene)
  • UPMC for You

The protests were filed by Aetna Better Health (withdrawn), Molina Healthcare of Pennsylvania, WellCare of Pennsylvania, Gateway Health Plan, United and Geisinger.

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