Granite State Update

The 2019 Legislative Session is in full swing and the Granite State Home Health & Hospice Association is actively involved in numerous bills. Our Legislative Committee, which has been meeting every other week, is monitoring about 70 bills.The State Budget will be our major focus. Governor Chris Sununu delivered his budget address last week and outlined his priorities in education, children’s health and mental health. HB 1, as it is commonly known, will now be scrutinized and revised by the House, Senate and most likely a Conference Committee before it lands back on the Governor’s desk in June. GSSHHA is advocating for increases in rates for Medicaid services and a significant rebasing of rates for Choices for Independence (CFI) home health services.

SB 308, relative to the health care workforce and making an appropriation therefore, is a comprehensive bill introduced by Sen. Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua) that is supported by over 40 organizations, included our Association. The bill increases rates for all Medicaid providers by 5% in SFY 2020 and 7% in SFY 2021; funds programs that promote health careers, recruitment and retention; mandates surveys when health professionals are being re-licensed, requires the Department of Safety to create an online criminal background check system, and improves the state’s telemedicine laws. If SB 308 passes, its funding will need to be included in the state budget. Click here to read our testimony.

SB 273 re: the regulation of nursing assistants by the Board of Nursing, seeks to change the status of nursing assistants from “licensed” to “certified.” Proponents of the bill claim this will eliminate the time and cost of federal criminal background checks. Many health care providers have concerns, including home care and hospice agencies. The Association urged the Senate Executive Departments & Administration Committee to amend the bill to study the issue, including seeking input from LNAs and better understanding the impact of removing the FBI background check.

SB 255, re: dementia care training for direct care staff in residential facilities and community-based settings. This bill is part of a national effort by the Alzheimer’s Association to have states adopt consistent dementia care training for health care providers. The bill requires all direct care workers to have 6 hours of initial training on specific dementia care topics with an evaluation exam and 4 hours of annual continuing education. Training curricula would require approval by NH DHHS. Specific requirements would also be imposed for trainers. GSHHHA supports the concept of minimum training for workers who interact with dementia clients, but feels the bill as written is too proscriptive. We will work with stakeholders to request a more flexible approach to dementia care competency. Click here to read our testimony.

The Association weighed in on several bills that have been killed.

There are several major policy issues also being considered in both the House and Senate. These include a Family Medical Leave Insurance Program and minimum wage increases. These bills will evolve as the session progresses. The Association will continue to remind legislators that any new mandated costs must be offset by Medicaid and CFI rates increases.