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Legislative Bulletin: Priority Legislation Gets New Life in Final Weeks of Session

With two calendar weeks and just seven days left of session, the legislature and its staff are beginning to work overtime on priority initiatives. 

ACF Penalties Legislation Remains in Assembly Health Committee

The Assembly Health Committee met on Wednesday to deliberate over a lengthy 17 bill agenda. Among the 17 items on the agenda was A.4416-B (Gottfried), a bill that proposes an increase to ACF penalties and places further restrictions on how a facility might apply for a reduction in fines. LeadingAge New York opposes this legislation and has been working actively to ensure that it not move to the Assembly floor calendar. A.4416-B has been amended from its initial version, reducing its call to increase penalties from $1,000 to $5,000 per day, per violation. Now instead the legislation calls to increase penalties from $1,000 to $3,000 per day, per violation. While this is a move in the correct direction, there are still substantial concerns about the legislation and how it would impact ACF that work to provide the best care they can to a population that needs a home. Even with the milder increase in penalties, this legislation would still stand to put good ACF providers at risk of closing.

These points of concern were well understood among committee members, many of whom strongly debated the bill. We are pleased that Assembly Members Cahill, Cymbrowitz, Hevesi, Braunstein, Solages, Bichotte, and the Minority voted against the bill, which was subsequently taken off the agenda.

This is a positive development for our advocacy against the ACF penalties legislation, however, we are not yet in the clear. The bill has substantial support in both the Assembly and the Senate at large and it is vital that we keep the pressure on our lawmakers to ensure that this bill does not move forward. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers, opposing any increase to penalties for Adult Care Facilities! And if your legislator voted against the bill in Committee please call them to say Thank You!

 

CCRC Revitalization Act Gets New Life

Priority legislation, the CCRC Revitalization Act, experienced some positive developments this week when Assembly Member Schimminger introduced a revised version of the legislation. A.8193 (Schimminger) was officially introduced today and would reform CCRC laws and regulatory oversight, eliminating many of the current barriers to developing, expanding, and efficiently operating CCRCs in New York State. The new version of the bill focuses primarily on consolidating authority for establishment and operational oversight of CCRCs into the Department of Health. The purpose of the bill is to eliminate barriers to the development, expansion, and efficient operation of CCRCs in New York while preserving vitally important resident protections.

The bill is currently a stand-alone, however, Senate bill S.1803 (Rivera) shares many of the same provisions and we are working to have it match the Assembly bill in the coming days.

This legislation is at the forefront of LeadingAge New York’s priorities for the remainder of session, but we need your help to make sure the legislation moves and is signed into law. Click here to send your legislators a message in support of the CCRC Revitalization Legislation!

 

Rent Reform Remains a Priority as Session Approaches Final Days

With two calendar weeks and just seven days left of session, the legislature and its staff are beginning to work overtime on its big legislative initiatives. At the fore front of conversations is rent regulation reform. With the conclusion of a series of public hearings on rent reform last week, Senate and Assembly leadership issued a joint statement announcing that the body will “enact the strongest rent package ever”.

While the statement was promising for rent reform advocates, the urgency of the issue remains, and hundreds of tenant activists flooded the State Capitol on Tuesday. Dressed in matching red T-shirts, they crowded onto stairs, jammed hallways and blocked the entrances to the governor’s office and legislative chambers. At one point, a group of men trying to enter the Senate chambers reached over the shoulders of a group of activists who were blocking the entrance, trying to pull the doors open as the activists strained to keep them shut. The raucous demonstration lead to scuffles and dozens of arrests. Two of the people arrested were also charged with third-degree assault for striking the Assembly sergeant-at-arms, according to a spokesman for the state troopers.

The state law that regulates almost one million rent-stabilized apartments expires on June 15 and advocates are focused on ensuring that a package of nine rent reform bills get passed into law before that expiration date. Since the protests on Tuesday, the Governor issued a statement of support for the reforms, urging the Senate to pass the nine bills. The next day, legislative leaders issued another joint statement, announcing that the body was now prepared to work with the governor on passing the ambitious package of bills into law.

Among all the debate surrounding rent reform lies an issue that LeadingAge New York continues to work actively on. The issue of security deposits is one that is not yet a part of the package of nine bills, however, it is possible it will be added into the mix. LeadingAge has submitted testimony and met with several legislative members and staff to ensure that any action on security deposits must exclude senior services providers and retirement communities.

LeadingAge New York has also expressed our concerns in the press. A McKnight’s article published this week, written by Ami Schnauber, V.P. of Public Policy and Advocacy at LeadingAge New York, dives into the unintentional consequences that could come from a limit on security deposits. The article can be read in its entirety here.

 

Preparing for the Final Stretch of the 2019 Legislative Session

At this point of the legislative process, most committees will cease to have meetings with their own set agendas. For these final two weeks of session, legislation will likely have to move directly through the Rules Committee in order to be added to either house’s floor calendar. In other words, any legislation that is not already on the calendar will have to now move through Rules committee in order to be passed in the Senate or Assembly. As you might imagine, this means we need your advocacy now more than ever if we want to see our priority bills advanced and bills we oppose stopped before the end of session! Use your voice and tell your legislators your opinion on the following issues:

Your continued advocacy and communications to lawmakers will help to ensure that these bills be addressed this legislative session. While LeadingAge New York connects with legislators in Albany we need the support of our members - the constituents - to keep the pressure on and finish the 2019 session strong!

 

LGBT Bill of Rights Legislation

The LGBT Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights (S2912A/A866A), currently on the Senate Floor Calendar and in the Assembly Aging Committee, would add discrimination guidelines to the elder protection laws of New York State, requiring that Assisted Living and Nursing Home providers provide record-keeping procedures to ensure the laws are being followed and sustained, and add cultural competency requirements among staff and facility administration to guarantee basic understandings of the LGBT community.

The legislation follows up on a 2011 community study that showed widespread discrimination of LGBT elders in long term care by staff, and other residents, increased isolation, and a basic lack of understanding about LGBT people and their environment.

The findings of the report showed that:

  • 78% of LGBT seniors felt that they could not be open with the staff of a long-term care facility about their sexual orientation or gender identity,
  • 89% of respondents identified discrimination by staff
  • 81% of respondents identified discrimination by other residents
  • 77% of respondents identified isolation from other residents and
  • 53% of respondents identified abuse or neglect by staff

This legislation has begun to gain traction and LeadingAge New York has been asked to weigh-in. It would be helpful to us if you would review the bill and let us know if there are things you can support, suggestions you would have for amending the bill, or provisions that are particularly problematic.

 

Help LeadingAge Capitalize on our Advocate Network

Please help LeadingAge gauge the reach of our advocate network. Through this brief questionnaire, you can provide information on the issues that are important to you, the stakeholders within your network and the level of advocacy you can help us with in our campaigns. Your participation will make a tremendous difference.  There is no right or wrong answer to any of the questions, we simply ask for your honest feedback.  Some questions will ask if you personally know certain elected officials representing you at the state or federal level. Please do not feel that there is an expectation that you do, as most people will not.     

We greatly appreciate your time and participation. Policymakers are currently considering legislation and regulations that will impact aging services in the coming years. This information will help us capitalize on the relationships and resources available in our LeadingAge network of advocates. Click here to begin your questionnaire!

 

Tell Congress to Support the Home Health Payment Innovation Act (H.R. 2573/S. 433)

Last year, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made significant changes to the Medicare home health payment system, including a budget neutral transition to a 30-day unit of service beginning on January 1, 2020.

As part of this law, Medicare rates to home health providers under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) will be reduced by 6.42% ($1,873.91 for a 30-day unit of service to $1,753.68) due to the behavioral assumptions allowed to reach budget neutrality.

The Home Health Payment Innovation Act will improve the planned revisions by prohibiting CMS from reducing payment for Medicare home health services based on faulty, presumptive assumptions. It will require the use of evidence to make payment changes allowing for a more accurate reimbursement system that better aligns payment with patient care needs. The legislation will also waive homebound rules for certain Medicare beneficiaries.

Send an email today asking your members of Congress to become cosponsors of the Home Health Payment Innovation Act and show their support for providing PDGM relief.

 

Set Your Summer Grassroots Advocacy Goals!

As the legislative session will be coming to close over the next few weeks, now is a perfect time to begin to consider how you want to engage with your lawmakers over the more relaxed summer months. The importance of legislators knowing who you are and the role your organization plays in the community at large cannot be overstated. Furthermore, your lawmakers need to understand your biggest obstacles and how they hinder your organization’s success. This story-telling is vital to the success of any advocacy or progress made during legislative sessions.

So, this year LeadingAge New York encourages you to set a Grassroots Advocacy Goal! This goal could be anything related to engaging with your lawmakers; whether it be setting up a site visit with legislators, attending town halls or getting residents and board members involved with grassroots advocacy efforts. Whatever it may be, the goal should be set with the purpose of fostering a relationship with your state and federal lawmakers. The groundwork for the 2020 legislative session starts now!

LeadingAge New York staff is committed to assisting you in setting and accomplishing your goals. Contact Sarah Daly at Sdaly@leadingageny.org if you would like help setting up a site visit with your legislator this summer.

 

Ami Schnauber, aschnauber@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8854

Sarah Daly, sdaly@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8845