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.

Legislative Update on HB 2291

11/4/2018 - PARCR Admin

We gave it a valiant try but could not move HB2291 for a final vote. We do not have to give up. We will continue to follow progress through LeadingAge PA and lend our voices to advocacy again when appropriate. Below is a positive endorsement of our efforts from LeadingAge PA.

HB 2291: Thank You for Your Advocacy- it Rallied Remarkable Progress this Session!

HB 2291, the Independent Senior Living Facilities Privacy Act, jointly prime sponsored by Representatives George Dunbar (R - Westmoreland) and Pam DeLissio (D-Montgomery, Philadelphia) was voted unanimously from the House in October, only six short months after it was introduced. Having a bill move so quickly and in a bipartisan manner is almost unheard of and much credit is due to the grassroots pressure of LeadingAge PA members and residents especially in the face of growing opposition of other associations representing personal care homes and assisted living residences.

Unfortunately, after House passage there just weren’t enough session days left to get a vote in the Senate and send the bill to the Governor’s desk. LeadingAge PA will continue to aggressively pursue resolution of the issue that made the Independent Senior Living Facilities Privacy Act necessary. Please watch for updates on this topic in future issues of Government Affairs News.


Tidbits for Fall 2018

10/10/2018 - PARCR Admin

On October 3, 2018 LeadingAge PA reported that The Senior Independent Living Facility Privacy Act (HB 2291) made progress thanks to our advocacy!

In Pennsylvania, bills must be considered three times prior to passage and on Monday, Oct. 1, HB 2291 received second consideration. There are not many days left on the legislative calendar, but LeadingAge PA is hopeful that HB 2291 will receive third consideration and final passage in the House yet this session. LeadingAge PA is requesting that we keep up our advocacy to get the bill past the finish line in the House.

In addition continue to urge your senator to sign on to SCO 1590 to co-sponsor The Independent Senior Living Facility Privacy Act protecting the rights and privacy of seniors to age in place which would be a companion bill to HB 2291.

LeadingAge PA is requesting additional advocacy from PARCR to ask our Congressional Representatives to Cosponsor the Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act (H.R. 6986)

Right now, nursing homes that are assessed penalties above a certain level automatically lose their authority to train nursing assistants (CNAs) for two years. This “CNA Training Lockout” runs counter to a nursing home’s ability to provide the highest quality of care.

The Nursing Home Workforce Quality Act (H.R. 6986) has just been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would end the mandatory CNA training lockout. Rather than this arbitrary two-year penalty, CMS and the states would have the discretion to impose a lockout under certain conditions; and any lockout imposed would end once the deficiencies cited are corrected.

We can use our voices and help LeadingAge build momentum for this new legislation! We can contact our own legislator now.


Budget and More

7/5/2018 - PARCR Admin

LeadingAge PA has released the following information about the Pennsylvania 2018-2019 Fiscal Year Budget with some positive news for nursing facilities and an update on The Independent Senior Living Facility Privacy Act, HB 2291

June is a very busy time in Harrisburg as the General Assembly works to pass a timely state budget for the new fiscal year which begins July 1. The $32.7B spending plan actually made it to the Governor’s desk, and was signed, with eight days to spare.

For the first time in four years there is some positive news for nursing facilities. Through the advocacy of LeadingAge PA, both the members and Government Affairs team, we were successful in having a 1% increase for Medical Assistance funding for nursing facilities included. The Nonpublic Medical Assistance Day-One Incentive Payment continues to be funded at $8M of state funds.

If you have questions regarding the budget please contact Anne Henry at ahenry@leadingagepa.org or Georgia Goodman at ggoodman@leadingagepa.org

Independent Senior Living Facility Privacy Act

The Independent Senior Living Facility Privacy Act, HB 2291 was introduced when Department of Human Services (DHS) Personal Care Home surveyors entered the independent living of a LeadingAge PA member CCRC and started to question the seniors living there about services they were receiving. After doing so, DHS demanded that a number of seniors immediately move to personal care and that the CCRC cease and desist operating an illegal Personal Care Home in their independent living.

HB 2291 would modify the definition of personal care homes to protect the privacy and independence of individuals living in independent living settings. This bill has been a priority of LeadingAge PA. On Wednesday, June 20, Anne Henry, Sr. VP and Chief Government Affairs Officer of LeadingAge PA and Mr. John Dickson, President and CEO of Redstone Presbyterian SeniorCare testified before the House Aging Committee during an informational hearing on this bill. You can view their testimony by clicking the link on their names above.

The House Aging Committee met on June 22 after amending the bill with an amendment that LeadingAge PA has agreed to, voted the bill out of committee with only 1 negative vote. LeadingAge PA will be working on this bill with the General Assembly this fall. A big thank you to all of our members who have discussed this important legislation with their elected members of the General Assembly.


Tidbits for March 2018 Wrap Up

4/3/2018 - PARCR Admin

Important dates for primary election day May 15

The primary election will be held May 15, 2018. If you will be absent and want to vote in the primary, you can apply for a civilian absentee ballot between March 26 and May 8. The last day to register to vote is April 16.

PA Medicare beneficiaries among first to receive new Medicare cards in April

CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards to beneficiaries in PA. Providers can use either MBI or HICN through the transition period (4-1-18 to 12-31-19). Click here for an overview and here for the mailing strategy and phase-in schedule.

PA-18 Special Election won by Conor Lamb

Democrat Conor Lamb, an attorney who was a U.S. Prosecutor was elected to fill the 18th Congressional seat of Tim Murphy who resigned from office. Rick Saccone was the Republican on the ballot. The election was too close to immediately call and was decided by only a few hundred votes.

Priority Report

On March 12, 2018 at the PARCR Executive Meeting, Anne Henry, LeadingAge PA Senior VP & Chief Government Affairs Officer, reported on the four priorities set by LeadingAge PA for the upcoming months.

  1. Advocate for an increase in Medicaid reimbursement to Skilled Nursing Facilities.
  2. Advocate for decreased monetary fines to Skilled Nursing Facilities by the Department of Health.
  3. Advocate for Medicaid reimbursement for Assisted Living Facilities.
  4. Don’t allow the Department of Human Services to violate the privacy of residents of independent living in CCRC’s/Life Plan Communities by demanding that they move to a higher level of care if they have “care needs”.

Details will be presented at the April 11, 2018 Quarterly Meeting at Brethren Village, Lititz, PA.


Tidbit for 2017 - Late Wrap Up

1/8/2018 - PARCR Admin

PA State Government Changes

In November, many faces changed in the Pennsylvania state agencies that effect the members of LeadingAge PA. The Department of Health (DOH) now has a new Acting Secretary Rachel Levine who also serves as the Physician General. DOH has a new Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Sarah Boateng, and Acting Deputy Secretary for Quality Assurance Nancy Lescavage. Acting Deputy Lescavage oversees licensure of healthcare facilities including nursing facilities, home health care agencies and home care agencies.

The Department of Human Services has ushered two individuals into new roles. Teresa Miller is serving as Acting Secretary. She was formerly the Commissioner of the Department of Insurance. The Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Leesa Allen formerly served as the Deputy Secretary for Medical Assistance Programs. Jessica Altman has been tapped to serve as the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Insurance.

LeadingAge PA is meeting with these individuals to share the great care and services provided by our members.

On December 21, 2017 Susan C. Drabic Chair, LeadingAge PA Board of Directors issued the following letter:

Dear LeadingAge PA Members:

Ron Barth informed me of his intention to retire during 2018. The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of LeadingAge PA has met with Ron and is in full support of Ron’s decision. The LeadingAge PA Board of Directors will be conducting their regular December board meeting on December 6 and 7. During this meeting we will agree on our next steps in regard to acknowledging Ron’s years of service to the Association and planning the necessary actions to assure a smooth transition as the Association brings in a new President and CEO during 2018.

One of the first things I will do, as Chair, is appoint a search committee to be responsible for conducting a nationwide search for a new President and CEO. While Ron stated his intention to retire no later than December 31, 2018, the Executive Committee and I would prefer to have a replacement in place by the end of June 2018. It would be our hope and intention to introduce the new President and CEO to members at the annual conference in June and at the same time celebrate Ron Barth’s many contributions to LeadingAge PA over the past 27 years.

Blessings to all this special holiday season.

Susan C. Drabic
Chair, LeadingAge PA Board of Directors

On December 13, 2017 the following information was released:

POLST bill moves out of state Senate committee

On Tuesday, December 12th, LeadingAge PA contacted Senate Health and Human Services Committee members to urge support for Senator Yaw’s SB 623 prior to the POLST bill coming up for a vote in that committee. The committee unanimously supported the bill and voted it favorably out of committee. Companion legislation has been introduced by the third ranking republican in the House, Brian Cutler as House Bill 1196, which is currently awaiting a vote out of the House Health Committee. LeadingAge PA will continue to advocate for, and monitor the progress of POLST legislation as a valuable and dignifying tool to assure that older Pennsylvanians' individual desires for care are followed and granted.

December 21, 2017

DOH ramping up nursing facility state civil penalties

LeadingAge PA has learned that the Department of Health (DOH) has been reviewing a hundred or more nursing facility surveys in order to potentially assess state fines for deficiencies. Nursing facilities, having endured one of the most punitive survey environments in memory, noted a brief respite this fall from the surge in the assessment of state fines they experienced earlier in 2017. Unfortunately, the reprieve has been due less to a change in policy than to a pause while new leadership in DOH reviewed cases, and now, with many of the reviews completed, a significant increase in notifications of state fines is expected.

A listing of state fines and provisional licenses can be found here. LeadingAge PA monitors this list on a regular basis and will include information in our weekly Government Affairs News as this list is updated. Members are reminded to review this list as facilities have appeared on the list in error in the past.

If you receive notification of a state fine, experience a difficult survey, or face anything unusual with regard to survey and enforcement, please contact either Anne Henry, ahenry@leadingagepa.org, 717-790-3949 or Beth Greenberg, bgreenberg@leadingagepa.org, 717-790-3945. We need to hear from you so that we can advocate on your behalf.