2016 Legislative Session Summary

Esq. Stephen B. Hanse in Legislative

The 2016 regular Legislative Session officially came to a close on Saturday, June 18th with both the Senate and Assembly adjourning in the early morning hours. Throughout the 2016 Session, NYSHFA/NYSCAL advanced several initiatives while working diligently to ensure that many bills were not considered by the Legislature. While there are numerous bills introduced affecting skilled nursing and assisted living providers throughout New York, the following is a brief summary of some of the more significant end of Session legislative issues NYSHFA/NYSCAL has been addressing on behalf of its members.

E-Prescribing - Nursing Home Exemption


Authorizes non-electronic prescriptions to continue to be made through the long-established mechanism of oral prescriptions being submitted by nurses, acting as the agent to a physician, in skilled nursing home settings. (S.6778, Hannon; Passed Senate/A.9334, Gottfried; Passed Assembly).

E-Prescribing – Patient Chart Notes


Eliminates the requirement that a health care practitioner notify the Department of Health and simply requires a notation to the patient record for instances when a non-electronic prescription is issued in cases of a temporary electrical or technical failure, any delay that would adversely impact a patient’s health, or when a prescription is going to be filled out of state. (S.6779-B, Hannon; Passed Senate/A.9335-B, Gottfried; Passed Assembly).

Unused Prescription Drug Donation and Redispensing Program

Authorizes Department of Health approved health care facilities to donate unused prescription medications for redispensing to eligible individuals by an authorized pharmacist or prescriber on a voluntary basis. (S.5903-A, Hannon; Passed Senate/A.9905-A, Gottfried; Passed Assembly).

Tax Credits for Long Term Care Insurance


Expands current tax credit incentives for long term care insurance to include life insurance policy riders that would allow for the use of accelerated benefits for certain long term care costs. The credit would equal 20 percent of the premium paid by individuals who purchase long term care insurance policies with life insurance riders offering long term care coverage benefits. (S.6369, Klein; Passed Senate/A.8703, Gjonaj; Passed Assembly).

Long Term Care Insurance Market Study


Requires the Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) to study the long term care insurance market in New York State and report to the Governor and the Legislature within 12 months after the bill is signed into law. Specifically, DFS must study the following:

  • The present state of the long term care insurance market, with respect to the growing aging population and other demographic shifts as well as market participation by insurance carriers;  
  • The impact of long term care coverage to public benefits such as Medicaid, care recipients and caregivers;
  • Identifiable trends in life expectancy, policy claim and utilization rates, and policy lapse rates;
  • a  review  of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners activities as well as studies and reports prepared by the  American  Academy of Actuaries and/or the Society of Actuaries regarding long term care insurance premium rates increases;
  • the actuarial assumptions and methodologies used by DFS to ensure benefits are reasonable to premiums charged when approving and adjusting premium for this product, at this product's  inception and presently;
  • The impact of premium rates on the solvency of the plans offering this product;
  • the impact of premium increases, and options  offered  to  policyholders, on the affordability of long term care insurance and the ability of policyholders to maintain meaningful benefits; and
  • Solutions to making this public benefit more affordable and attractive to consumers.

(S.6802, Seward; Passed Senate/A.10711, Stirpe; Passed Assembly).

Third Party Notification of Insurance Cancellation


Requires insurers to send a copy of the notice of cancellation for nonpayment of a long term care insurance policy premium to be sent to a third party designee no later than 30 days before the effective date of the cancellation. (S.2268, Golden; Passed Senate/A.10269, Cymbrowitz; Passed Assembly).

Criminal History Checks

Conforms State Public Health Law with Federal Law by prohibiting secondary dissemination of Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history record information to nursing homes and home care providers. (S.7298, Hannon; Passed Senate/A.10382, Hyndman; Passed Assembly).

Opioid Abuse Bill Package

At the end of the 2016 legislative Session, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law three bills (Chapters 69-71 of the Laws of 2016) addressing various issues associated with opioid addiction, prevention and treatment. Among the measures included in these laws are the following:

  • On or before July 1, 2017, and once every three years thereafter, licensed prescribers must complete three hours of coursework to be developed by the State to increase awareness of the risks presented by prescription opioids;
  • Limits the initial prescription of certain opioids to 7 days instead of the current 30 days, after which a practitioner may then prescribe any appropriate renewal, refill or new opioid or other prescription after the initial 7-day supply;
  • Requires a minimum of 14 days of insurance coverage without prior approval for inpatient treatment of substance abuse disorder.


Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act

Mandates specific nurse-to-patient staffing ratios for hospitals and residential health care facilities throughout New York.  Specifically, this legislation requires a staffing ratio at residential health care facilities equal to at least the following:

  • 2.8 hours of care per resident per day by a CNA;
  • 1.3 hours of care per resident per day by an LPN or RN; and
  • 0.75 hours of care per resident per day by an RN.

Additionally, the legislation requires residential health care facilities that care for sub-acute patients to maintain a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio of one nurse to five patients. (S.782, Hannon; Referred to Senate Health/A.8580-B, Gunther, et al.; Passed Assembly).

Guardianship

Undermines the ability of a nursing home acting on behalf of an alleged incapacitated person from bringing a guardianship proceeding for the benefit of the alleged incapacitated person. (S.4642-A, Golden; Referred to Mental Health/A.6510-A, Weinstein; Passed Assembly).

TBI
and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver Programs

Requires managed long term care plans to provide a level of care and services for the Traumatic Brain Injury and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver populations at least substantially comparable to that offered under the Waivers; requires managed long term care plans to have adequate provider networks and ensure adequate training and competency among providers; creates a statewide neurobehavioral resource project subject to appropriation; implements a high needs rate cell for Medicaid claims supplementary to the basic benefit package; and directs the Department of Health to study and report to the legislature by December 31, 2017 on the need for and feasibility of repatriation of complex-needs patients placed in out-of-state facilities. (S.6766, Hannon; Passed Senate /A.9288, Gottfried; Referred to Assembly Ways & Means).

TBI
and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver Programs

Prevents services provided pursuant to the Traumatic Brain Injury and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Waiver programs from being provided through Medicaid Managed Care programs. (S.6814, Hannon; Passed Senate/A.9397, Gottfried; Referred to Assembly Health).

Telemedicine


Establishes a Statewide telehealth/telemedicine network, including initiatives to help promote the increased use, storage and retrieval of electronic records; requires the Public Health and Health Planning Council to include individuals with expertise in telehealth/telemedicine; establishes a grant program for underserved areas and populations; and establishes a research grant funding program.  (S.5789-B, Valesky; Passed Senate/A.10436, Russell; Referred to Health).

Assisted Living Provider Affiliates


Authorizes affiliates of licensed assisted living operators in good standing to utilize the streamlined application process for ACFs and ALRs. (Chapter 15 of the Laws of 2016).

SSI Increase


Provides a three-year phased-in SSI increase as follows:  $2.50 per day increase effective January 1, 2017, an additional $2.50 per day increase effective April 1, 2017, and an additional $2.50 per day increase effective April 1, 2018. (S.7333, Serino; Passed Senate/A.10224, Brindisi, Gottfried; Referred to Assembly Ways & Means).

ACF/AL Nursing Services


Authorizes adult care facility and assisted living settings to directly employ registered nurses or licensed practical nurses in order to provide certain nursing services for residents. Currently, such nurses are permitted to provide nursing services only to residents of Enhanced Assisted Living Residences. (S.7974, Hannon/A.10384, Gottfried; Referred to Senate Health; Referred to Assembly Health).

Advanced Home Health Aides

Authorizes advanced home health aides to perform advanced tasks under the supervision of a registered professional nurse employed by a home care services agency, a hospice program or an enhanced assisted living residence. To serve as an advanced home health aide, a certified home health aide with at least one year of experience providing either home health or personal care services, or a combination thereof, would be required to meet appropriate training and competency standards to be established by SED regulations. (S.8110, LaValle; Passed Senate/A.10707, Glick; Passed Assembly).

Assisted Living Fees and Charges

Directs the Department of Health and the Office for the Aging to conduct a study of fees and charges assessed to residents of assisted living facilities. (S.3854-B, Lanza; Referred to Aging/A.4252-B, DenDekker; Passed Assembly).

Public Health & Health Planning Council Appointments

During the closing days of session, numerous appointments were advanced by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. In addition to reappointing John Rugge, M.D. and Anderson Torres, PhD to the Public Health and Health Planning Council, the Senate confirmed the following two new members to the Council:

  • Harvey Lawrence, and
  • Kevin Darnell Watkins, MD, MPH.

Please feel free to contact Stephen Hanse at (518) 462-4800, xtn. 25 or shanse@nyshfa.org if you have questions or require any additional information regarding these or any other legislative or regulatory matters.

NYSHFA CONTACT:

Stephen B. Hanse
VP & Counsel
518-462-4800 x25