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.

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.

Sincerely
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.

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Message from LeadingAge PA

12/3/2017 - PARCR Admin

The Current Tax Reform Bill Will Hurt Seniors and Nonprofit Providers

Congress is considering major tax reform legislation, H.R. 1, that has serious implications for older adults and aging services providers. We, along with LeadingAge (national), have been monitoring both House and Senate versions and due to potentially dangerous provisions in the bill.

The House has already passed a bill that will eliminate the medical tax deduction, eliminate private activity bonds and advance refunding, and end the 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. More importantly, this bill will have long-term impacts on Medicare and Medicaid resulting from the $1.5 trillion cost of the bill. It is almost certain that these provisions will in fact hurt seniors.

The Senate began debate Nov. 27 in preparation for a vote. Now is the time to act. Let your senators and representative know that the H.R. 1 will hurt the health and wellness of older adults. This legislation is moving fast so please take action today.

How You Can Help

Call or email Senator Toomey ((202) 224-4254) and Senator Casey ((202) 224-6324) TODAY!

Share this information with the residents in your community and suggest that they call as well. The proposed changes will directly impact them.

tax reform Medicare Medicaid

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More November Tidbits

11/15/2017 - PARCR Admin

LeadingAgePA has released the following information:

Community HealthChoices Update: Implementation Delay for Phases 2 and 3

The Department of Human Services (DHS) announced this week that it would delay the implementation of Community HealthChoices (CHC) for Phase 2 and Phase 3, while Phase 1 will begin, as planned, on Jan. 1, 2018.

Phase 2 will now begin on January 1, 2019, instead of July 1, 2018
Phase 3 will now begin on January 1, 2020, instead of January 1, 2019

LeadingAge PA commends DHS for providing the additional time to allow for the deliberate and purposeful implementation of CHC in the southeast region (Phase 2) and the remainder of the state (Phase 3).

LeadingAge PA continues to actively engage with DHS as it works through the implementation of CHC, to urge clarifications and process improvements needed by members. We will continue to provide updates and information as available.

News Update: Pennsylvania now has a budget.

Final State Budget for 2017/2018 – On October 30, 2017, Governor Wolf signed several pieces of legislation which finalized the state budget for fiscal year 2017/2018. For LeadingAge PA members, the budget is mainly about keeping the status quo.

The General Appropriations Bill, HB 218 (Saylor, R, York) which became law without the Governor’s signature on July 11, 2017 held no Medical Assistance rate increases for nursing facilities or home and community based service providers.

The Fiscal Code Bill, HB 674 (Sponsorship withdrawn) included $8M for the non-public Medical Assistance Day One Incentive Payment. Additionally, the Fiscal Code made modifications to the Nursing Facility Provider Assessment requiring nursing facilities to pay timely and submit all payments electronically. For providers who don’t pay timely and don’t request a payment plan, DHS will begin to aggressively pursue collection of not only the assessment but the penalties and interest allowed by law.

The Administrative Code Bill, HB 118 (Kauffer, R, Luzerne) increases a number of fees that will affect members including elevator and boiler inspection fees. The bill also increases the cost of death certificates to $20 and allows the State Police to increase the cost of Criminal History Background checks after giving public notice. One piece of good news in the bill is that LIFE providers will no longer need a license for their adult day center from the Department of Aging.

In order to close the revenue gap of approximately $1.2B, the final budget requires a transfer of $200M from the Joint Underwriting Association; expands gaming to add additional categories and locales which is scheduled to bring in $200M in the first year and monetizing $1.5B of future tobacco fund settlements. LeadingAge PA has already started discussions with budget officials regarding Medical Assistance funding for long term care services and supports.

Reminder: Action Needed

Ask your U.S. Congressman to preserve medical expense deduction and tax-exempt financing for senior housing including CCRCs.

Tax reform legislation (H.R. 1) has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives and will soon come to a vote. Please see LeadingAge (national)’s action alert for additional information and talking points on the bill, click here for a letter to members of the House of Representatives from LeadingAge (national) President and CEO Katie Sloan. Call your Congressman TODAY at 855-837-6894.

The Senate has released its Tax reform bill. More information will be reported if LeadingAge makes comments after reviewing the bill.

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LeadingAge Member Alert November

11/8/2017 - PARCR Admin

Medical Expense Deduction and Tax-Exempt Financing on the Chopping Block

Major tax reform legislation, H.R. 1, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and will soon come to a vote.

The bill contains 2 provisions of serious concern to aging services providers and the elders they serve: 1. Elimination of the tax deduction for medical expenses. 2. Elimination of tax-exempt financing for the development and preservation of affordable senior housing and life plan communities/CCRCs.

This radical legislation would disproportionately affect older adults, many of whom have higher than average medical costs and/or need affordable housing.

Congress needs to hear from you today. Tell your lawmakers to protect the medical expense deduction and tax-exempt financing for senior housing and life plan communities/CCRCs. Tell them older adults need this. Tell them protecting these tax provisions is the right thing to do.

How You Can Help

  • Call your lawmakers TODAY at 855-837-6894. We’ve set up this toll-free number to connect you directly to their offices.
  • Share this information with the residents in your community and suggest that they call as well. The proposed changes will directly impact them.
  • Forward this action alert to your network.

Steps for Making a Call

  • Dial this toll-free number 855-837-6894.
  • Feel free to use the sample script below when you talk to the staff person who answers the phone.
  • After talking with the staff person, do not hang up. The automated system will connect you to your representative and then to each of your senators.

Background

My name is _ and I am a constituent. I urge Representative/Senator __ to oppose provisions of H.R. 1, tax reform legislation that would eliminate the medical expense deduction.

Also, please preserve tax-exempt financing for the development and preservation of affordable senior housing and retirement communities, which would be eliminated under H.R. 1.

I hope Representative/Senator __ will stand up for older adults and protect these crucial tax benefits for seniors and middle-income families.

Here is additional information for contacting Pennsylvania Senators:

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA)
Website: toomey.senate.gov
Washington DC Office
248 Russell Senate Office Building
District of Columbia 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4254
Fax: (202) 228-0284
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Website: casey.senate.gov
Washington DC Office
393 Russell Senate Office Building,
District of Columbia 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6324
Fax: (202) 228-0604
Harrisburg: (717) 231-7540

Below is a link to an alert message released by NaCCRA shortly before the tax plan was unveiled. This alert has some additional contact information and statements that may be helpful.

Take Action

Urge Congress to keep the medical deduction in the tax reform proposal. Read and download NaCCRA Alert and Call to Action.

We need you to take action immediately, the House is considering the bill this week.

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LeadingAge Member Alert

11/8/2017 - PARCR Admin

Take action! Share with your residents who may be affected if Congress eliminates the medical expenses deduction in their tax reform policy.

The below action alert from LeadingAge (national) contains information about how to contact your Senators and Representative.

Don’t Let Congress Take Away the Medical Expense Deduction

Congress is developing major tax reform. While few details have been released, one of the changes being considered is elimination of the deduction for medical expenses. Losing this important deduction would hurt many older adults. Elders living in some life plan communities deduct a portion of their fees as pre-paid medical expenses in case they need nursing home care. They would lose this important deduction—as would many older adults living in other care settings. Others with high medical bills would be similarly affected.

This radical proposal would disproportionately affect older adults, many of whom have higher than average medical costs.

Congress needs to hear from you today. Tell your lawmakers to protect the medical expense deduction. Tell them older adults need this important deduction. Tell them protecting it is the right thing to do.

How You Can Help

  • Call your lawmakers TODAY at 844-802-8508. We’ve set up this toll-free number to connect you directly to their offices.
  • Email your lawmakers.
  • Share this information with the residents in your community and suggest that they call as well. The proposed changes will directly impact them.
  • Forward this action alert to your network.

Steps for Making a Call

  • Dial this toll-free number 844-802-8508.
  • Feel free to use the sample script below when you talk to the staff person who answers the phone.
  • After talking with the staff person, do not hang up. Allow the staff person to hang up, and the automated system will then connect you to your other senator.

Background

My name is _ and I am a constituent. I urge the Senator/Representative to preserve the tax deduction for medical expenses when drafting tax reform legislation.

This deduction is important to many seniors and other Americans with high medical expenses. Losing this deduction would hurt many seniors and their families.

Please ask the US Senator/Representative to stand up for older adults and protect this crucial deduction.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns about this message or about CHC, please contact Anne Henry at anne@leadingagepa.org or 717-790-3949.

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