2017 New Hampshire Legislative Wrap-up

 
With the State Legislature taking a break for the summer, now is a good time for an overview of the key bills that affect home care and hospice agencies and the people who rely on us for care.

 

 

State Budget

 

The SFY ’18 and ’19 state budget was the major focus in this first year of the biennium. After the House failed to pass a budget, the Senate set the priorities.  Nevertheless, the House was still very much involved in the Joint Conference Committees for SB 144, the appropriations bill, and SB 517, the trailer bill that changed or created laws to implement the budget.

 

GSHHA’s advocacy priority was a rate increase for Choices for Independence home care and personal care services.  This was an uphill battle, largely because these services had received a 5% rate increase in 2015.  While Governor Sununu’s proposal to provide $10 million a year for discretionary DHHS rate increases was adopted, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended a rate increase only for those providers that had not received one the prior biennium. The Senate budget included PCSP services in a group of providers slated for an increase, but the Conference Committee removed personal care services. CFI providers such as case managers, adult day, transportation and Meals on Wheels got a 5% increase effective July 1st, but the increase must be used for wages.  There was no rate increase for home health or personal care.

 

SB 517, the budget trailer bill, suspended RSA 126-A:18-a until June 30, 2019.  This law requires DHHS to create home health rate-setting rules, review rates annually and report to the Legislature every other year. Historically, the Legislature has suspended the home health rate-setting rule, so that DHHS was not obligated to increase rates.  However, that rule expired during the past year.  With no rule to suspend, DHHS recommended that the actual law be suspended.  GSHHA opposed this vigorously, but some legislators felt that leaving the law on the books would trigger a rate increase.

 

 

Bills That Passed

 

Professional Licensure and Human Resources

 

SB 137, re: temporary licensure of nurses, allows  RNs and LPNs from VT, MA and CT (non-compact states) to have temporary licensure in NH for 120 days while awaiting permanent licensure. GSHHA supported this bill.  effective: 8/9/2017; sunsets on 7/1/2019

 

SB 152, re: criminal history checks for certain health care workers, allows a healthcare facility to hire a LNA for up to 90 days while a criminal background check is pending — as long as the LNA provides the employer with a background report completed within the prior 12 months as part of a LNA training program.  The LNA must have direct supervision.  The bill also requires the Board of Nursing to issue temporary licenses to LNAs who have completed an approved training program and provide the board with a criminal background report from within the prior 12 months.  This bill was the result of workforce commission and supported by the nursing home industry.  GSHHA supported the bill, but testified that it would be of limited use to home care agencies.  effective 9/3/2017; sunsets 6/30/2019.

 

SB 161, establishing a commission to evaluate the direct care workforce and preparedness of long-term care and support services of aging adults with dementia or other cognitive brain injuries.  HCANH has a designated seat on this commission. Amy Moore, Director of Ascentria In-Home Care, will serve as our representative.

 

SB 212, establishing the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, would enable NH to enter a multi-state licensure compact similar to the current nursing compact. The bill was promoted by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Ten states needed to adopt the legislation in order for the compact to be enacted. So far, 14 states have passed the necessary legislation.  GSHHA supported this bill. effective 7/1/2017.

 

HB 322, adding rulemaking authority to require completion of a certain survey as part of the licensure renewal process for health care providers, enables the State Office of Rural Health to collect, analyze and report workforce data.  The bill provides rule-making authority for professional licensing boards — including the Board of Nursing — to require completion of a survey as part of the professional licensure process. This bill was the result of a workforce commission. GSHHA supported it. effective 6/17/2017

 

HB 194, permitting employers to pay wages to employees weekly or bi-weekly.  NH law required employers to pay employees every 8 days, unless granted a written waiver from the NH Department of Labor.  This bill extends the period to every 14 days.  effective 7/11/2017

 

Clinical Issues

 

SB 17, re: treatment for hepatitis C under the law relative to use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, clarifies hepatitis C as a qualifying condition under the medical marijuana law.

 

SB 26, re: the definition of “facility caregivers” under the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes law.  This bill adds “community living facilities” to the list of licensed facilities that may allow and assist its residents, after adoption of policies, to use therapeutic cannabis.

 

SB 65, re: vaccines administered by pharmacists.  This bill allows a pharmacist to administer hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Tdap, MMR, and meningicoccal vaccines, as long as the pharmacist has completed specific ACPE training. Previously, pharmacists were allowed to administer only flu, pneumococcal and varicella zoster vaccines.  effective 7/16/2017

 

Other Issues

 

SB 155 re: implementation of the medicaid managed care program.  This bill declares that nursing home and CFI services shall be incorporated into Medicaid managed care on 7/1/2019. Developmental disability services shall not be included until after July 1, 2019.  The NH Association of Counties will report on a “partnership for long-term care plan” by July 1, 2018. effective 7/22/2017
SB 61, relative to medical records of a deceased spouse or next of kin.  This bill allows a surviving spouse, or certain next of kin in the absence of a surviving spouse, to obtain medical records of a deceased individual.  The bill establishes parameters and includes a model affidavit to request records. effective 1/1/2018

HB 640, reducing the penalties for possession of marijuana, reduces possession of less than 3/4 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hashish to a violation.

Retained Bills

 

HB 610, implementing a needle exchange program in New Hampshire

 

HB 628, re: a family and medical leave insurance program

 

HB 653, re: a health care premium contribution for Medicare-eligible state retirees

 

HB 656, re: the legalization and regulation of marijuana

 

 

 

Killed Bills

 

HB 268, establishing a committee to study the consequences of tobacco use by minors in NH

 

HB 269, establishing a committee to study ways to educate NH families about lung cancer risks

 

HB 239, establishing a committee to study reducing the cost of county government

 

HB 346, re: the payment of wages to an employee

 

SB 11, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union (indefinitely postponed in the House)

 

HB 222, re: the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes

 

HB 197, adding myelitis disorder or disease to the definition of qualifying medical condition for the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes

 

HB 361, re: the authority of the commissioner of the department of health and human services relative to certain vaccine requirements

 

HB 605, establishing a scholarship for students pursing careers in the services of children and the elderly

 

HB 606, establishing a scholarship fund for health care providers who stay in NH for 5 years and making an appropriating therefor

 

HB 522, establishing a committee to review occupational licensing to determine which licenses could be made optional for practitioners

 

HB 115, establishing a state minimum wage and providing for adjustments to the minimum wage

 

HB 130, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions

 

HB 442, relative to records checks in the employee application process