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.

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.


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


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.