Complete Story
 

01/08/2012

The Pulse: January 2012

In this issue:

Features

Current State Legislation

Statehouse News

Federal Updates

Features

Ohio House Passes Quality Payment Bill

Last month, the House and Senate agreed on small changes to Senate Bill 264 (read the bill, including the new quality measures by clicking here), introduced by Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) to provide for quality incentive payments and bonuses as part of the skilled nursing facility Medicaid reimbursement program. The bill was amended in the House Finance and Appropriations Committee and reported out of committee on Dec. 13. On Dec. 14, the House voted unanimously to pass the legislation and the Senate unanimously accepted the House’s amendments. The bill was signed into law by Governor Kasich on Dec. 21. (Read more...)

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Medicaid Director Offers Update to LTC Committee

Last month, Ohio Medicaid Director John McCarthy provided testimony to legislative members of the Joint Legislative Committee for Unified Long-Term Care Supports and Services, updating the committee members on changes implemented earlier this year in the biennial budget. Director McCarthy focused on the delivery of coordinated care; shifting policies that encourage more home- and community-based care; and, preventative efforts to reduce emergency room visits. (Read more...)

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Office of Health Transformation Releases Strategic Plan; Comments on PASSPORT

Click here to read updates on the OHT Strategic Plan, PASSPORT and the Eligibility Subcommittee of the Unified Long-Term Care System Advisory Workgroup.

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2011 in the Rearview, 2012 Ahead

This has been a year of change in the Ohio General Assembly and under the first year of Governor Kasich’s administration. For Ohio’s elderly and frail in particular, many of the changes came under Ohio’s new Office of Health Transformation (OHT) and the new biennial budget. (Read more...)

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current state legislation

Click here to read our latest legislative report on key pieces of Ohio legislation that Midwest Care Alliance is actively monitoring.

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STATEHOUSE NEWS

Attorney General

Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday that state and local law enforcement had raided the final pill mill operating in Scioto County, Wheelersburg's Greater Medical Advance, alleged source of 14,000 prescriptions in the last nine months. Authorities also raided the homes of clinic Dr. Victor Georgescu and clinic owner George Adkins, who've been indicted.

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Elections 2012

With the Iowa caucuses looming, Gov. John Kasich said Monday he's not ready to pick a candidate. "We have too much to do here. Everybody I endorsed either didn't run or dropped out," Kasich said. "My comments, they wouldn't serve me well, probably not the people I comment on well," he said. (Read more...)

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GOVERNOR

Gov. John Kasich previewed a 2012 agenda Monday focused on education and workforce-development reforms and energy policy, while reflecting on his first budget and other developments in the past year. (Read more...)

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Health & Human Services

Ohio is tied for last in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit, according to a national report released by a coalition of public health organizations. The groups note that, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that Ohio provide $145 million a year for tobacco prevention programs, Ohio is one of five states that have budgeted zero state funds for tobacco prevention programs.

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Insurance

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor urged the federal government to leave insurance regulation to the individual states. Taylor, who also serves as the director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, made the comments in a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Federal Insurance Office (FIO). The FIO is required to conduct a study of ways to improve and modernize the system of insurance regulation in the United States as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. The FIO requested state regulators to submit comments on potential efforts at the federal level to regulate insurance.

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Redistricting/Reapportionment

Supporters of redistricting reform this week criticized the latest congressional map passed in HB369 (Huffman), calling it "marginally better" than the earlier one passed in HB319 (Huffman) but said it is less compact, does not respect community boundaries and is not competitive. As a result, members of the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting said they would move forward on a ballot issue that would create an independent citizens' commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

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State Government

The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review heard extensive testimony at its final meeting of the year on two rule issues, including no shoes in the Statehouse and Ohio Medical Board approval of licensure certification exams for massage. A barefoot Bob Neinast, a frequent Statehouse visitor, told JCARR members that the rule submitted by the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) regarding Capitol buildings and grounds, was written just for him.

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FEDERAL ISSUES

Congress Passes Last Minute Doc Fix Bill

On December 23, Congress passed legislation to extend the payroll tax break, which included a physician fee schedule update and therapy cap exception extension. This will prevent the 27.4% fee schedule reduction on January 1, 2012 and provide for a continuation of the exceptions process to the $1,880 Medicare therapy cap until February 29, 2012. When Congress returns, attention will turn to the conference committee assigned to hammer out a deal between the two chambers to prevent these cuts and caps effective March 1, 2012. But the differences remain large over how to pay for the measures.

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The Companionship Services Exemption: On the Verge of Extinction?

Recently, the Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (the “Notice”) that would prohibit third party employers from using the “companionship services” exemption to the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”). Currently, Section 13(a)(15) of the FLSA provides third party employers with both a minimum wage and an overtime exemption for domestic service employees who provide companionship services for individuals who, because of age or infirmity, are unable to care for themselves (“companionship services”). Click here to read more.

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New Agencies Jump Through the Initial Requirements But May Still Not Become a Medicare Certified Agency

CMS sent a Revised HHA Initial Certification Process Instructions to State Survey Directors last month. This memorandum revises the current process for initial certification of prospective HHAs. An additional step is added to accommodate a second review of enrollment criteria performed by the Regional Home Health Intermediary (RHHI) or Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Regional Office (RO) will hold the issuance of a CMS certification number (CCN) and provider agreement until the RHHI/MAC has re-reviewed certain Medicare enrollment requirements (e.g., site visit verification, capitalization requirements and Medicare exclusion) following the initial survey.

Only upon recommendation from the RHHI/MAC that the prospective HHA continues to remain in compliance with the enrollment requirements will the RO proceed with completing initial certification of the HHA. To access the survey & certification memorandum, click here. (CMS, 12/23/11, S & C: 12-15-HHA)

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