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.

Hot Summer Tidbits

8/3/2020 - PARCR Admin

Here are some of the ways that LeadingAge PA has been assisting our member communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

LeadingAge PA and ECRI offer biweekly updates on coronavirus, available resources, and related state agency coordination. On April 24, 2020, LeadingAge PA, the leading association of nonprofit senior services providers in Pennsylvania, and ECRI, an independent nonprofit organization improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care in all health care settings, announced a new alignment aimed at protecting Pennsylvania's older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these educational sessions on the LeadingAge PA website are offered at no charge to members.

LeadingAge PA is providing information to members on the availability of $50 million in grant funding to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will offer $1,200 per full-time employee earning less than $20 per hour and employed for the 10-week period from Aug. 16 - Oct. 24, up to 500 employees.

On July 24, 2020, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services announced a commitment of $5 billion in CARES Act funding to assist nursing facilities with COVID-19 specific training, enhanced testing, and technical support.

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) posted the Point of Care Testing document to the message board. DOH is accepting these tests for the POC test systems that CMS is sending, as long as facilities follow the guidance. It will require nursing facilities to report results through NEDSS, Pennsylvania's version of the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, have appropriately trained people do the testing, and have the PA CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) certificate or waiver.

LeadingAge PA is providing a dedicated COVID-19 page which provides updated information and resources.

LeadingAge PA, along with the Pennsylvania Health Care Association and the Pennsylvania Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, sent a letter to Governor Wolf on July 31, 2020 urging Governor Wolf to provide additional funds to long-term care providers for testing.

The following information can be found on the https://www.pa.gov website under the Department of State

Pennsylvania Will Provide Postage-Paid Return Envelopes with Mail and Absentee Ballots

Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar announced that the Pennsylvania Department of State will provide funding for postage so all eligible voters can return their mail-in and absentee ballots at no cost to the voter for the 2020 general election.

"Our goal is to make voting as accessible, safe, and easy for eligible voters as possible," Secretary Boockvar said. "Mail-in or absentee voting with prepaid postage means Pennsylvanians can vote from the comfort of their own home, without having to make a trip to the post office to buy a stamp, during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Eligible voters may apply for their mail-in or absentee ballot online, in person at their county election offices, or by paper forms submitted by mail. Once the county determines the voter is eligible, the Department's funding will allow the counties to send a postage-paid ballot-return envelope with the ballot to the voter for their easy return.

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LeadingAge PA Assisting Member Communities during COVID-19 Pandemic

8/3/2020 - PARCR Admin

Here are some of the ways that LeadingAge PA has been assisting our member communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

LeadingAge PA and ECRI offer biweekly updates on coronavirus, available resources, and related state agency coordination. On April 24, 2020, LeadingAge PA, the leading association of nonprofit senior services providers in Pennsylvania, and ECRI, an independent nonprofit organization improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care in all health care settings, announced a new alignment aimed at protecting Pennsylvania's older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these educational sessions on the LeadingAge PA website are offered at no charge to members.

LeadingAge PA is providing information to members on the availability of $50 million in grant funding to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will offer $1,200 per full-time employee earning less than $20 per hour and employed for the 10-week period from Aug. 16 - Oct. 24, up to 500 employees.

On July 24, 2020, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services announced a commitment of $5 billion in CARES Act funding to assist nursing facilities with COVID-19 specific training, enhanced testing, and technical support.

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Health (DOH) posted the Point of Care Testing document to the message board. DOH is accepting these tests for the POC test systems that CMS is sending, as long as facilities follow the guidance. It will require nursing facilities to report results through NEDSS, Pennsylvania's version of the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, have appropriately trained people do the testing, and have the PA CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment) certificate or waiver.

LeadingAge PA is providing a dedicated COVID-19 page which provides updated information and resources.

LeadingAge PA, along with the Pennsylvania Health Care Association and the Pennsylvania Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, sent a letter to Governor Wolf on July 31, 2020 urging Governor Wolf to provide additional funds to long-term care providers for testing.

The following information can be found on the https://www.pa.gov website under the Department of State

Pennsylvania Will Provide Postage-Paid Return Envelopes with Mail and Absentee Ballots

Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar announced that the Pennsylvania Department of State will provide funding for postage so all eligible voters can return their mail-in and absentee ballots at no cost to the voter for the 2020 general election.

"Our goal is to make voting as accessible, safe, and easy for eligible voters as possible," Secretary Boockvar said. "Mail-in or absentee voting with prepaid postage means Pennsylvanians can vote from the comfort of their own home, without having to make a trip to the post office to buy a stamp, during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Eligible voters may apply for their mail-in or absentee ballot online, in person at their county election offices, or by paper forms submitted by mail. Once the county determines the voter is eligible, the Department's funding will allow the counties to send a postage-paid ballot-return envelope with the ballot to the voter for their easy return.

Read more...

Member Alert: Advocacy for Immunity Protection

6/25/2020 - PARCR Admin

LeadingAge PA Members:

Long-term care providers need protections from civil liability, and your PA House and Senate members need to hear from you now.

Even as states all over the country have provided protections for providers acting in good faith, Pennsylvania has failed to act. Guidance and best practices from state and federal governmental bodies have evolved rapidly over the last several months, often without clarity.

Shortages of personal protective equipment, testing supplies, and staff have strained the system. Good quality providers have been forced to make due as they make decisions about how to provide the care residents need, and they should be protected from frivolous suits.

  • Use these talking points for additional information on liability protections.
  • Urge the General Assembly to provide protections from predatory attorneys, lawsuits, and settlements.
  • Call or email your Member of the PA House and Senate and tell them why liability protections are important to you. Seek their support by asking them to share this priority with their leadership and vote in support of these protections.

Please share the details of your conversations with Georgia Goodman at ggoodman@leadingagepa.org

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Member Alert

6/2/2020 - PARCR Admin

Member Alert: PA House and Senate came to consensus and passed funding bills May 28, 2020

The Pennsylvania House and Senate came to consensus and passed a number of funding bills late in the evening of 5-28-2020.

Emergency CARES Act Funding for the Continuum of Long-Term Care Providers Thanks to the advocacy of our members and the diligent efforts of LeadingAge PA, a $2.6 billion funding package (SB1108 appropriating and HB2510 allocating the same funding) was passed in both the PA House and Senate.

We battled for nursing facility funding that would direct funding to all nursing facilities statewide. As a result of your advocacy and engagement, the bills currently awaiting the governor’s signature will send approximately $3 million more to LeadingAge PA members than if the alternative formula being pushed was enacted. The allocation of funding from the commonwealth to all nursing facilities is the first of its kind and the direct product of LeadingAge PA advocacy. All funding will be distributed through the Department of Human Services, with the timing to be determined.

The funding breakdown supporting the long-term care continuum includes:

  • $245 million directly to nursing homes
  • $140 million for personal assistance services in the Medical Assistance program
  • $50 million directly to personal care homes and assisted living residences, with a small enhancement for personal care homes serving SSI residents
  • $13 million for adult day care services provided under the Medical Assistance program
  • $10 million for LIFE Program providers
  • $175 million for Regional response health collaboratives to enhance testing capability, infection control consultation, and clinical care and telemedicine within nursing homes, personal care homes, and assisted living residences *$150 million for Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency Rental Assistance Grants

State Budget Passage A five-month interim budget (HB2387) was approved by both the PA House and Senate yesterday, sending the agreed-upon partial year budget to the governor’s office to finalize. Because of uncertain revenues and expenses forthcoming with the COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the economy, the legislature will return to finish the fiscal year’s budget in November. The current partial budget is status quo and contains flat-funding for nursing facility Medical Assistance rates.

We continue to advocate and build relationships supporting a rate increase for Medical Assistance nursing facility rates to begin addressing the per diem gap between reimbursement and cost of care. We encourage you to reach out to your members of the PA House and Senate over the summer to tell your story about the safety net services you provide and the Medical Assistance shortfall.

If you have questions about the budget or emergency CARES Act funding, please reach out to Anne Henry(ahenry@leadingagepa.org) or Georgia Goodman (ggoodman@leadingagepa.org).

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Leading Age Member Alert

5/17/2020 - PARCR Admin

PA Senate passed SB 1122 for $507 million support for long-term care. Since the bill now goes to the house for consideration, PARCR needs your help to contact your state house member to advocate for this critical funding.

Please follow this link to read a statement from Adam Marles, President and CEO of LeadingAge PA with specific information about this bill.

See below for LeadingAge PA's response to the Senate Bill.

Thank you for your assistance in this very critical matter.

PA Senate passes bill for $507 million support for long-term care

Late this afternoon (May 12, 2020), the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1122, providing $507 million dollars in emergency funding support for COVID-19 response to long-term care providers across the Commonwealth. LeadingAge PA has advocated strongly for significant funding for weeks, and we are excited to announce this outcome. The package includes:

  • $449 million for long-term care
  • $50 million for Community HealthChoices
  • $8 million for LIFE programs

This is a great victory, but we still need your advocacy!

The legislation now goes to the state House for consideration, so please reach out to your state representatives to advocate for this critical funding. Let them know all nursing facilities need this support. There are proposals circulating that would allocate funds based on Medical Assistance utilization by days—this would result in our membership receiving tens of millions of dollars less than if funding is allocated equally by licensed beds across the state.

The LeadingAge PA team is also working to make sure that personal care homes and assisted living residences receive a portion of the funding, so please reiterate that point with your representatives.

Finally, though funding is our immediate reason for reaching out, immunity from civil liability remains a priority and focus. Expect to see more from LeadingAge PA on that issue in the next couple of days.

Please reach out with any questions and continue to let us know how we can support you.

As always, thank you for all that you do for our older adults and those who care for them.

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