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Legislative Bulletin: March Mondays are back!

Budget update
Budget negotiations are heating up! Earlier this week, the Assembly Majority, Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos and Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein released their revenue forecasts. The Senate’s revenue forecast estimates additional General Fund revenues to be $126 million in 2013-14 – $116 million more than the Executive’s estimate for state fiscal year 2012-13. The Senate is saying that this money should not be used for additional spending, but rather to support the State’s reserve funds or to provide taxpayer relief. The Assembly’s revenue estimates All Funds receipts are $484 million more than the Executive's forecast.

The Legislature will now work to reach consensus on revenues over the next week, with the Senate and Assembly scheduled to pass one-house budget resolutions on March 11. Joint Budget Conference Committees will convene immediately thereafter, with a final budget expected to be finalized by March 21.

LeadingAge New York government relations staff have been meeting extensively with members of the Legislature and central staff about the Association’s key budget priorities and have shared suggested amendments to the governor’s proposal. We will keep you updated as budget negotiations intensify!

Advocacy Alert
This coming Monday, March 4 LeadingAge New York will host its first of two virtual lobby days! We encourage all members, staff and consumers to contact their legislators and ask for their support regarding specific budget proposals, and educate them on how these proposals will impact long term care providers and the frail elderly and disabled populations in their districts.

For your convenience, we have developed the following materials, which are also available on our Legislative Action Center that will help you host a successful virtual lobby day and deliver your message effectively and concisely to your legislators.

To access your legislator's contact information, click here, enter your zip code and select "elected officials." Legislators' contact information is also available on the Senate and Assembly websites. Once you've contacted your legislators, please fill out the response form, and return it to Alyssa Lovelace via email at alovelace@leadingageny.org or fax to 518-867-8384. Don't forget to indicate on your response form if you want to be included in the drawing to win $100! Two winners will be announced at the end of March!

We also encourage you to continue sending letters to your lawmakers through our Legislative Action Center, in addition to participating in March Mondays. If you need assistance with connecting with your lawmakers or would like more information on advocacy opportunities, please contact Alyssa Lovelace or Ami Schnauber at 518-867-8383.

DOH to host budget briefing
As you recall, Gov. Cuomo issued his 30 day amendments last week – click here for a list of amendments that are of a concern to LeadingAge New York members. The Department of Health will host a webinar focusing on the 30 day amendments to the Governor's 2013-14 MRT executive budget proposals. The webinar will be held from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., Wed., March 6. To participate, click here. For materials that will be used during the webinar, visit the MRT’s website.

$26 million in Medicaid overpayments found
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found $26 million in Medicaid overpayments made by the Department of Health, according to an audit released this morning. According to a press release about the audit, the overpayments are a result of flaws in its eMedNY claims processing computer system – between 2009 and March 2012, nearly 866,000 improper and questionable payments were made. Auditors recommend that DOH:

  • correct the eMedNY computer controls that caused the Medicaid overpayments identified during the audit;
  • recover the Medicaid overpayments totaling $10 million caused by eMedNY computer programs that incorrectly processed Medicare crossover claims; and
  • review the $16.4 million in potential Medicaid overpayments and recover where appropriate.

Sequestration is here…
Federal lawmakers are heading to the White House, today for a last ditch effort to prevent automatic spending reductions, known as sequestration. Federal funding for aging services programs is expected to be cut substantially unless Congress comes to agreement and passes legislation, today. Sequestration will have the following impact on aging services:

  • Medicare reimbursement to health care providers will be cut by 2%. These cuts will amount to an $11 billion cut in Medicare spending.
  • A 5.1% cut in Section 202 housing funding, amounting to $18 million.
  • The Administration on Aging, which manages Older Americans Act programs, would get a 5.1% cut, amounting to $86.7 million.
  • Medicaid is one of the few federal programs that would be exempt from the automatic spending cuts.

Please contact your legislators and urge them to prevent sequestration by taking a fair and balanced approach to reducing the federal budget deficit.

Legislature battling over minimum wage
While legislators are focusing on passing an on-time budget, it’s looking like minimum wage will not be included in a final budget due to differing opinions. However, that’s not to say minimum wage won’t be taken up, legislatively later this session. Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos does not agree with Gov. Cuomo’s budget proposal that will raise that state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75, while Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein still agrees with a raise to minimum wage. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins are both calling for a $9 an hour raise. For more details about the battle for minimum wage, click here.

Support your PAC!
A well-funded PAC allows us to support candidates and lawmakers who oppose cuts to long term care, senior housing, and services; and enables us to be involved in both the legislative and political process. Help us raise our voices in the Legislature by supporting our PAC – contribute today!

A very special thank you to this year’s Founders Club Members, who have contributed $1,000:

  • Loren Ranaletta, president/CEO, Episcopal SeniorLife Communities
  • Stuart C. Kaplan, CEO, Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.
  • David Gentner, president and CEO, Wartburg
  • Mary Francis Barrett, CEO, Hebrew Hospital Home of Westchester
  • Michael N. Rosenblut, president and CEO, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation
  • Michael Keenan, president and CEO, Good Shepherd Communities

In addition to the fund-drive, the PAC will also be hosting its annual golf tournament on Mon., May 20 at the Saratoga Spa Golf Course! 

This year’s format includes a later shot-gun start at 11:45 a.m. for the 18-hole tournament, and a 1:30 p.m. pro-clinic and 9-hole tournament for those of us who might need a little more practice! Join us at the 19th hole for a cocktail reception, prizes and giveaways! 

Click here for registration and sponsorship information.

Legislative updates

Reported out of Assembly Aging and placed on the Assembly floor calendar:

  • A.4306 (Brennan): Directs the commissioner of health to establish a schedule of fees for the use, maintenance and repair of air conditioners used by residents of adult homes. LeadingAge New York opposes this legislation.

Reported out of Senate Social Services Committee and to Senate Finance Committee:

  • A.5201 (Gottfried)/S.1662 (Grisanti) – This legislation will strengthen the enforcement powers of the Department of Health and distinguish violations that endanger residents from those that do not in adult homes and adult care facilities. It eliminates opportunity for the Department of Health (DOH) to consider important factors about the history and character of the operator in certain circumstances, and removes important protections for providers. LeadingAge New York opposes this legislation.

Reported out of Senate Health and placed on the Senate Floor Calendar:

  • A.4811 (Schimminger)/S.2118 (Ranzenhofer) – This legislation will provide affordable, accessible, continuing care services to seniors living at home. With the support of a case manager, seniors will be able to choose from a menu of services based upon their individual needs. LeadingAge New York supports this bill. Send a letter to your lawmakers, urging them to support this legislation!