Spring and Summer Legislative Tidbits 2015

8/20/2015 - PARCR Admin

Budget Stalemate – Will it End in The Near Future?

On Wednesday, August 19, after weeks of talks between Governor Wolf and Republican majority leaders, budget negotiations took a new twist when Republican leaders made a one-time budget proposal offer on education funding and pension reform to the Governor. On the education front, the Republican proposal would increase basic education to $400 million for public schools. This is the same amount that Governor Wolf requested during his budget address this past March. In exchange for the Wolf education plan, the Republicans have asked for a pension reform proposal which would move the state’s retirement system to a private sector-like 401(K) plan affecting future state government workers and public school employees. This pension plan is very similar to the one vetoed by the Governor on July 9, 2015. The House sessions resume August 25, and the Senate is in recess until September 21 unless sooner recalled by their respective leaders.
A response from Governor Wolf is expected at any time.
Even though there is a budget impasse, the commonwealth must continue operations for all critical functions that impact the health, safety and/or welfare of the citizens of Pennsylvania. This means Medical Assistance payments to LeadingAge PA members will continue.
The LeadingAge PA Government Affairs team will continue to monitor the budget process and provide updates to members as new information becomes available.

Senators request GAO assessment of 5-star rating system

On August 6, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an assessment of the general accuracy and reliability of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 5-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes and its usefulness as a consumer tool.

Budget Adjustment Factor (BAF)

On June 19, 2016 a Member Alert was sent out to PARCR members requesting sharing information with their residents to make contacts with State Legislators about the action of the Department of Human Services’ Budget Adjustment Factor (BAF). The BAF formula changes would harm nursing facilities that use state taxpayer money the appropriate way. These facilities spend money to provide better quality care. The DHS’ actions would reward large companies headquartered outside of the Commonwealth. The contacts from non-profit facilities, LeadingAge PA, and PARCR members were heard and the DHS has postponed any action at this time.

Observation Stays

In May a Member Alert was sent out to PARCR members requesting action to urge US Senators to support moving forward on: “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act of 2015” which has the opportunity to fix the Observation Stay problem. On August 6, 2015, President Obama signed into law H.R. 876, the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act. The new law requires hospitals to provide written and oral notification to Medicare beneficiaries receiving observation status for more than 24 hours, rather than admitted as inpatients. Last year on October 22, 2014 Pennsylvania’s Governor signed into effect Act 169. This act brought transparency in Pennsylvania to the hospital/patient by requiring the hospital to provide notice to the patients of their outpatient status after they have spent a full day in the hospital outside the emergency department.

Legislative Breakfasts successful

The last week in May, the LeadingAge PA Government Affairs team attended the last of nine Legislative Breakfasts held throughout the state in April and May. Dozens of elected officials from each region met member organizations' staff and residents and heard stories about the services they provide and how they benefit communities. Thanks to facilities that hosted the events.

Senior Care and the PA Budget with Anne Henry

On May 20, 2015 Anne Henry, Vice President at LeadingAge PA, was interviewed on PCN. The video which highlights that Anne Henry is watching how state government will spend its funds to take care of Pennsylvania’s senior population can be viewed on pcntv.com and searching for Anne Henry.

Department of Transportation proposed rule on license criteria for persons with cognitive impairments

In May The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule regarding criteria to obtain or retain a driver's license for those with cognitive impairments, including dementia, by adding a section to disqualify individuals that have a moderately severe cognitive impairment. Responses to the proposed rule will be reviewed before any movement on the proposal will occur.