Legislative Bulletin: State Lawmakers Conclude 2020 Legislative Work
July 24, 2020
State Lawmakers Conclude 2020 Legislative Work…For Now
State lawmakers returned to Albany this week for a robust four-day session week. Both chambers gaveled in on Monday and concluded their work late Thursday night. During their work, they tackled issues such as automatic voter registration and free speech, as well as coronavirus-related bills and typical end of session measures. Throughout the duration of the week, several pieces of legislation arose drawing concern from LeadingAge NY policy staff.
First, a nursing home discharge bill A.10799 (Hevesi)/S.8764 (Rivera), which would establish new requirements for the transfer, discharge and voluntary discharge of nursing home residents, was showing some movement late last week. Fortunately, thanks to your advocacy the bill failed to advance any further and remained on the Assembly Floor Calendar and in Senate Rules Committee.
Another bill that showed movement last week but was not advanced further was the ACF Penalties bill A.4416-C (Gottfried)/S.3460-A (Rivera). The bill moved out of the Assembly Health Committee and into Assembly Codes late last week, but this week, it did not make an appearance on any committee agendas. The bill now remains in Senate Health and Assembly Codes committees.
Although the Legislature appears to have concluded all typical legislative work, we are still not sure if they will return again before the end of the 2020 calendar year. The body has several Joint Legislative Hearings scheduled for August - including a hearing on Nursing Homes and COVID-19 - which could prompt additional coronavirus-related action. Additionally, Majority Leadership of both houses once again neglected to offer their end-of-session remarks.
For now, we thank you, our members, for your resilient participation in advocacy over these last several months. It has been an unusual legislative session and an exceedingly challenging time in the world of long-term care and aging services, and your efforts are greatly appreciated! We would not have had these successes without you! Thank you!
Legislative Leaders Advance Bill Limiting Immunity for Health Care Providers
Unfortunately, a top priority for the Legislature’s work this week was a measure meant to roll back liability protections for nursing homes and other health care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. The Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act was signed into law as part of the SFY 2020-21 Budget and was meant to protect healthcare providers operating during the height of the pandemic from liability. The Act promotes public health, safety and welfare by removing the fear of reprisal for health care facilities, agencies and individual caregivers who are treating high-risk individuals while trying to contain the spread of a deadly virus.
Initially, the Legislature was considering A.10427 Rules (Kim)/S.8497 (Biaggi), a bill that sought to repeal the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act entirely. Then late last week, LeadingAge NY heard that some Senators were interested in making the repeal of the Act retroactive, rendering health care providers subject to legal action for care provided at the height of the pandemic when PPE and other resources were low and staffing was often short.
Ultimately, the Legislature did advance and pass bill A.10840 (Kim)/S.8835 (Sepulveda), which narrows the scope of the protections offered by the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act. This bill subjects providers to liability for good faith actions taken to prevent transmission of the virus, to arrange for care, and to deliver care to non-COVID patients. The bill is prospective, meaning care provided or actions taken from March 2020 until the bill’s effective date are still protected by the Act.
LeadingAge NY issued a comprehensive memo of opposition when the bill was introduced and alerted LeadingAge members to advocate in opposition. The legislation was passed in both houses on Thursday night.
Thank you again for your advocacy on this important issue. We will alert members if there is any additional action to be taken.
NYS Officials Provide Insight on FEMA Public Assistance Application Process
Officials with the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) presented to LeadingAge NY members yesterday on the FEMA Public Assistance application process. The presentation slides are available here. The Public Assistance provides reimbursement to public and non-profit providers, including long-term medical care facilities and other organizations providing elder care, for eligible emergency response activities. Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID emergency, the eligibility of certain activities and expenditures for reimbursement is evolving and is often fact-specific. Reimbursement is available for PPE and disinfecting, among other expenses. Staff testing costs incurred by medical facilities, such as nursing homes, are likely to be reimbursable, subject to certain conditions. It is unclear whether staff testing costs incurred by ACFs will be reimbursed, although ACFs are eligible for reimbursement of other expenses. Members were encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible, in order to allow eligibility discussions and determinations to proceed.
Additional CARES Act Funding Allocated to Nursing Homes
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that an additional $5 billion in Provider Relief Funding authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be allocated to nursing homes. While the distribution methodology has not been revealed, the CMS announcement indicates that appropriate use of the funding will include hiring additional staff, implementing infection control “mentorship” programs, increasing testing, and providing additional services, such as technology so residents can connect with their families if they are not able to visit. One of the eligibility criteria will be a requirement that homes participate in a COVID-19 training program focused on infection control and best practices, a joint CMS/CDC initiative that will feature 23 online, self-paced modules. We will provide additional details as they become available.
National Public Health Emergency Extended
The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration that was set to expire on July 25th for an additional 90 days. The declaration was originally issued in January of this year and renewed in April. The extension means that waivers whose expiration is tied to the expiration of the emergency declaration will continue into October unless specifically rescinded.
HUD Provides Guidance on CARES Act Supplemental Payments for COVID-19
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidance for housing providers to request supplemental funds for COVID-19 expenses. This HUD Notice announces the availability of supplemental operating funds for Section 8, Section 202, and Section 811 properties to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, including for costs related to budget-based service coordinators. The Notice also establishes an application process for owners of properties assisted under these programs to request funds. HUD will consider requests to reimburse eligible costs incurred between the enactment of the CARES Act on March 27, 2020 and July 31, 2020. The deadline for owners to request funds is August 5, 2020.
HUD has posted the following items:
- NOTICE H 20-08: Availability of Funds for COVID-19 Supplemental Payments for Properties Receiving Project-Based Rental Assistance under the Section 8, Section 202, or Section 811 Programs
- Draft COVID-19 Supplemental Payment Request (CSP) Form
Additionally, HUD staff will join LeadingAge’s next Housing Advisory Group call on Monday, July 27 at 12:30 p.m. to discuss the supplemental payments for COVID-19 and answer questions. To join the LeadingAge Housing Advisory Group, email Juliana Bilowich at email@example.com. Advance questions for the call are welcome.
LeadingAge & LeadingAge NY Coronavirus Resources
LeadingAge NY is closely following all COVID-19 news and doing our best to keep members informed of updates, recommendations and guidelines from the Department of Health (DOH).
LeadingAge NY and LeadingAge National Member resources are linked below.
LeadingAge NY COVID-19 Weekly Update calls – Mondays, 11 am – 12 pm. Click here to join the call from your computer, android or apple device. Or you can join the call by dialing in: 877 853 5257 (Toll Free); Webinar ID: 852 964 255.
Contact: Ami Schnauber; 518.867.8854; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Daly; 518.867.8845; email@example.com