Friday, June 24, 2011

Governor vetoes background screening legislation

Yesterday, Governor Scott vetoed the Background Screening Bill (SB1992), saying in his veto letter that the state has an obligation to ensure that "these vulnerable members of our communities are protected, especially in their homes."

As a result of the Governor's veto, the new requirements under the legislation are void, including:
* Flexibility for an employer to fill a position before the employee has completed the screening process,
* The modified timeline for the Level II screening of persons, and
* The preclusion of CNAs from having to undergo duplicative background screenings for both employment and testing.

Facilities should refer to the original Agency for Health Care Administration letter on background screening requirements that went into effect August 1, 2010, which includes the timeline for screening requirements (requires Level 2 rescreening every 5 years. Health care providers have until July 31, 2015 to conduct Level 2 rescreening on current employees hired prior to August 1, 2010). These and other resources on background screening can be found under the Members Only Regulatory link under the Facility Operations tab of the FHCA website.

FHCA had convened a coalition of health care and other providers to identify recommended fixes to current background screening requirements and is disappointed by the Governor's veto of the legislation, which would have provided for a number of fixes to the current system. The bill contained several good provisions for FHCA members; however, the Governor was not in agreement with the portion of the bill which allowed volunteers to have contact with vulnerable persons and be exempt from the screening process. This provision was not a focus of FHCA’s advocacy efforts. The Governor has said he will issue an executive order retaining a portion of the bill that sets up an interagency workgroup to streamline background checks and share information, which is good news.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ask your Representative to sign on to the Latham-Neal letter to CMS and protect LTC services for our nation's seniors

Skilled nursing facilities are facing a potentially drastic Medicare funding cut under the CMS SNF Prospective Payment System proposed rule for FY 2012. Under the April 28th SNF PPS proposed rule for FY 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offered two options. Under option one, FY 2012 Medicare payments to SNFs would be reduced by $3.94 billion or a total of 11.3% lower than FY 2011. Under option two, CMS would increase rates 1.5% in the Medicare market basket for an increase of $530 million in FY 2012. The unprecedented difference between the two proposed rules could put skilled nursing facilities and their residents at risk should the large cut be enacted.

U.S. Reps. Tom Latham (R-IA) and Richard Neal (D-MA) are circulating a bipartisan letter to CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick urging the agency to delay an exceptionally high proposed Medicare payment cut to skilled nursing facilities that is based upon limited data.

Please click here to take action and ask your Representative to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter to CMS regarding proposed cuts to Medicare. We must ensure that our nation’s seniors continue to have access to the critical health care services provided by skilled nursing facilities. This request is time-sensitive; ask that Members sign on today.

Agency hosts public meetings on Medicaid Managed Care

The Agency for Health Care Administration is holding public meetings across the state from June 10-17th on Medicaid Managed Care. The meetings will kick off in Tallahassee and will take place in a number of cities, including Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, with the final meeting taking place in Ft. Myers.During the 2011 legislative session, lawmakers passed a major overhaul of the existing Medicaid program. AHCA is directed to submit any waiver it may need for the new Medicaid program to the federal government by August 1. Before the state submits a waiver it is required to hold the meetings and obtain public input. FHCA members can access a schedule of upcoming meeting dates and locations here.