Legislative Bulletin: LeadingAge NY’s Hospice in the ALP Bill Introduced in Assembly
Hospice in the ALP Bill Introduced in Assembly
With just under two months until the scheduled end of session, Assembly and Senate lawmakers continued to work on several key pieces of legislation this week. On Monday, at LeadingAge NY’s request, Assembly Aging Committee Chair Donna Lupardo introduced a bill that would allow Medicaid beneficiaries residing in Assisted Living Programs (ALPs) to access hospice services without having to transfer from the ALP. Current Medicaid regulations and payment policy prevent terminally ill ALP residents from accessing hospice services, forcing many to transfer to a nursing home in their last few weeks of life. This end-of-life transfer creates additional burdens on the resident as well as their family during an already difficult time; not only must they cope with the terminal illness, but they must now also acclimate to new surroundings. Enabling ALP residents to access hospice services in the ALP would help them to remain in a familiar location at the end of life as well as provide a significant savings for the State’s Medicaid program.
Senate Social Services Committee to Consider SSI Increase Bill on Monday
This coming Monday, the Senate Social Services Committee will meet to consider A.9963 (Brindisi)/S.7743 (Serino), legislation that would increase the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) reimbursement rate for adult care facilities (ACFs) by $20 per day per resident over five years, beginning April 1, 2018. The State has not increased its share of the SSI benefit in 11 years, leaving many ACFs that serve low-income seniors to face difficult financial decisions. LeadingAge NY has long argued that this underpayment to facilities is unsustainable and that if communities do not have sufficient ACF and assisted living options for Medicaid-eligible seniors, unnecessary and costly nursing home placement is often the only other option.
Continue Advocating on Other End-of-Session Priorities
In addition to the items outlined above, LeadingAge NY encourages members to continue engaging with lawmakers on our other priorities for the final weeks of session:
- CCRC Revitalization Act
- Affordable Independent Senior Housing Assistance Program
- Role of the Nurse in ACFs
- Staffing Ratios (With the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) pushing this bill at the Capitol on Monday, it is especially important for you to contact your legislators to tell your side of the staffing ratios story. LeadingAge NY has developed a cost template to help you determine the potential financial impact on your facility.)
Assembly Health Committee Convenes First of Two Public Hearings on Aid-in-Dying Bill
On Monday, the Assembly Health Committee convened the first of two public hearings on a bill that would allow mentally competent, terminally ill individuals with a life expectancy of less than six months to request life-ending medication from their physician. During the nearly four-hour hearing in Albany, Committee members heard arguments from “patients and their families, health care providers, legal experts, medical ethicists, and religious leaders” as well as advocates for individuals with disabilities. Proponents of the proposal endorsed it as a means of reducing suffering and giving patients peace of mind, while others expressed concern that it would create a “slippery slope” and be used to relieve problems that could be addressed with “adequate services and support.”
To access LeadingAge NY’s overview of the aid-in-dying legislation, please click here. Meanwhile, the second and final public hearing on the issue will be held this coming Thurs., May 3rd in New York City.
Action Alert: Sign the Seniors Action Network’s Petition to Expand and Protect Affordable Senior Housing
Last week, the Seniors Action Network, a grassroots advocacy initiative coordinated by LeadingAge National and Volunteers of America, launched a petition to expand and protect affordable senior housing. Members are encouraged to sign the petition to urge Congress to invest more in affordable senior housing and reject the President’s proposed 22 percent cut to next year’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget. We need to be loud and clear that more affordable housing is needed and that any cuts to funding that threaten the availability of quality housing for seniors are unacceptable. Please sign the petition and tell your lawmakers to make seniors a priority!
On a related note, LeadingAge National has just begun circulating a sign-on letter urging the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies to provide strong FY 2019 funding for HUD’s senior housing programs. Click here to review the letter and here to add your organization’s support. The sign-on deadline is Fri., May 11th.
Action Alert: Urge Congress to Pass Legislation Ending the Mandatory CNA Training Lockout
Your federal advocacy is also needed to urge Congress to end the mandatory Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training lockout, a penalty that is counterproductive to quality nursing home care. Quality care that the public can trust has long been a priority for LeadingAge. Under current law, however, facilities that have received fines over a certain level ($10,483 as of 2017) automatically lose their ability to train CNAs for two years, even if the care deficiencies are unrelated to their CNA training program. The loss of CNA training authority runs directly counter to a nursing home’s ability to provide the highest quality of care, and it makes the workforce challenges in the long-term services and supports field even more difficult.
LeadingAge National and LeadingAge NY are urging Congress to pass legislation that would make a nursing home’s loss of CNA training discretionary rather than mandatory and allow training authority to be restored once a facility has corrected its care deficiencies. Please join us in telling lawmakers that now is the time to end the lockout! We encourage you to add your personal story to your message as well, especially if your facility has experience with this issue.
Democrats to Remain in Senate Minority Despite Special Election Wins
On Tuesday, voters across the state headed to the polls for special elections to fill two Senate and nine Assembly vacancies. In the most closely watched races in the 32nd and 37th Senate Districts, Democrats Luis Sepulveda and Shelley Mayer emerged victorious, defeating their opponents by double-digit margins. As a result of these victories, Democrats now control 32 of the 63 seats in the Senate, enough for a numerical majority. However, with Democrat Simcha Felder’s decision to continue conferencing with the Republicans, the party will remain in the minority through the end of session.
Results of the nine Assembly special elections are outlined below:
- In the 5th District, formerly represented by Republican Al Graf, Republican Doug Smith defeated Democrat Deborah Slinkosky.
- In the 10th District, formerly represented by Republican Chad Lupinacci, Democrat Steve Stern defeated Republican Janet Smitelli.
- In the 17th District, formerly represented by Republican Tom McKevitt, Republican John Mikulin defeated Democrat Matthew Malin.
- In the 39th District, formerly represented by Democrat Francisco Moya, Democrat Ari Espinal ran unopposed.
- In the 74th District, formerly represented by Democrat Brian Kavanagh, Democrat Harvey Epstein defeated Republican Bryan Cooper, Green Party candidate Adrienne Craig-Williams, and Reform Party candidate Juan Pagan.
- In the 80th District, formerly represented by Democrat Mark Gjonaj, Democrat Nathalia Fernandez defeated Republican Gene DeFrancis.
- In the 102nd District, formerly represented by Republican Peter Lopez, Republican Chris Tague appeared to defeat Democrat Aidan O’Connor and Independent candidate Wes Laraway.
- In the 107th District, formerly represented by Republican Steve McLaughlin, Republican Jake Ashby appeared to defeat Democrat Cindy Doran.
- In the 142nd District, formerly represented by Democrat Mickey Kearns, Erik Bohen, a Democrat running on the Republican line, defeated Democratic nominee Pat Burke. Bohen has stated that he plans to caucus with the Democrats.
Four Lawmakers Announce Retirement
Finally, four state lawmakers announced this week that they will not run for re-election in November: Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a conservative Democrat first elected in 1982; Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a Republican first elected in 1992; Senator John Bonacic, a Republican first elected in 1998 after an eight-year tenure in the Assembly; and Senator Kathy Marchione, a Republican first elected in 2012.
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