Government Solutions Update on Legislative Concerns:
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Your ArkSHA Board and Lobbyist have been hard at work this legislative session. Below is a list of current bills that are being monitored.
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Senate Bill 498
AN ACT TO AMEND THE DEFINITION OF "HEALTHCARE PAYOR"; TO PROHIBIT WAIVER OF ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT SYSTEMS BY CONTRACT; TO PROVIDE A LEGAL ENFORCEMENT MECHANISM TO ENFORCE ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT SYSTEMS; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
Senate Bill 555
AN ACT TO TARGET AND ENHANCE INCENTIVE BONUSES FOR TEACHERS EMPLOYED IN HIGH-POVERTY SCHOOLS WHO OBTAIN NATIONAL BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL TEACHING STANDARDS CERTIFICATION; TO MODIFY THE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA AND CODIFY THE AMOUNT OF INCENTIVE BONUSES FOR CURRENT RECIPIENTS; TO REPEAL UNFUNDED INCENTIVE BONUSES; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
House Bill 1628
AN ACT TO CREATE THE HEALTHCARE FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE ACT; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
House Bill 1835
AN ACT TO PROMOTE, RECRUIT, AND RETAIN A HIGHLY SKILLED WORKFORCE IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS; TO AMEND THE LAW CONCERNING LICENSING, REGISTRATION, AND CERTIFICATION FOR CERTAIN PROFESSIONS; TO ESTABLISH A SYSTEM OF RECIPROCITY FOR LICENSING, REGISTRATION, AND CERTIFICATION FOR CERTAIN PROFESSIONS; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
House Bill 1551
AN ACT TO CREATE THE RIGHT TO ENGAGE IN A LAWFUL OCCUPATION; TO STIMULATE JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WHILE PRESERVING HEALTH AND SAFETY STANDARDS; TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
House Bill 1746
AN ACT TO CREATE THE DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES WAIVER LEGISLATIVE TASK FORCE; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
DHS Summary of Comments and Responses re: Medicaid Proposal for Therapy Thresholds with Prior Authorization
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Workgroup of Pediatric Health Professions
Same Song Different Verse....Savings!
[As published in the 3rd Quarter ArkSHA Newsletter on 9.15.16]
If you have turned on your news over the past year, then you are aware of the legislative influences that are at play to save money in healthcare, including audiology and speech-language pathology services. The same song with the same message continues in each iterative verse…..SAVINGS, SAVINGS, SAVINGS! The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)-Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, is currently examining measures needed to meet the cost savings goals that the governor has requested.
In an effort to be proactive with influencing the cost-containment measures, ArkSHA has been heavily involved over the past year with the Task Force of Pediatric Health Professions. This Task Force includes representatives from the OT & PT Associations, CHMS, DDPA and Early Intervention Providers. Jeff Adams, ArkSHA President-Elect; Melodee Owens, ArkSHA Past-President and Cheri Stevenson, ArkSHA State Advocate for Reimbursement have been meeting regularly with other stakeholders to draft recommendations to present to administrators at DHS. The goal is to reduce the threat of outside managed care groups from making decisions on behalf of services provided to Arkansas Medicaid recipients, and to develop and implement outcomes-based standards of practice. The initial recommendations from the Task Force of Pediatric Health Professions to control costs beginning in July of 2017 are as follows:
1) Set maximum threshold of 90 min/week per discipline for ages 0-5 and 90 min/week per discipline for ages 6-21 and require that any recommendations above the threshold be prior authorized. Recommendations of therapy at, or below or above maximum would still have to be justified by results of the evaluation.
2) Independent Assessment for Referral of an Evaluation: The Medicaid recipient’s primary care physician completes the Ages and Stages Screening and then refers the family to a trained/certified service coordinator with a prescription for evaluation(s) and selection of a provider for evaluation services.
Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out.
The 90th General Assembly kept to their schedule and ended their Session on Thursday, after 81 days. The last week was not particularly pretty as far as these things go, but they got their work done, balanced their budget and left on time. For that, we are all grateful.
On Monday and Tuesday of the final week the Revenue Stabilization Act, RSA, passed with ease. It appeared that only a few minor legislative matters remained at that point. For one, Governor Hutchinson pushed to have two constitutional amendments referred to the people. The first would amend the constitution to allow an Arkansas governor to retain his powers when out of the state, Senate Joint Resolution 3. The second removed the cap on bonds that the state could issue to bring in new industries, Senate Joint Resolution 16. The Governor had indicated for some weeks that the two amendments should be presented in the next election, while House and Senate leadership had made it clear that no amendments were warranted. A third constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 1027, would increase the terms of county officials from two to four years. This was clearly a win for the Governor and another piece of his economic development goals.
Most of the energy and publicity this last week centered on HB 1228 by Rep. Bob Ballinger (Hindsville, R), the so called Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill was viewed by many in the state as a way for businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. Governor Hutchinson had given early indications that he would sign the bill if it got to his desk. After some consideration and after hearing from Wal-Mart, Axiom and other corporate entities in the state, the Governor back tracked. Finding himself in much the same situation as the Indiana governor in recent days, he made it clear that a new bill must be written in line with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. With only days to spare, a shell bill was used to accommodate the new language, SB975, and a likely veto was averted. In fact, the House went into recess for about 45 minutes, just long enough to accommodate a bill signing ceremony for SB975. The new bill will give more protection to the rights of all citizens, including the LGBT community.
By late Thursday afternoon, the House and Senate had gaveled out of Session with plans to return May 8 to adjourn sine die. As they did so, most observers and clearly most members believed they had completed a productive and business-like Legislative Session, the final days dust-up over the Religious Freedom bills notwithstanding.
The 90th General Assembly worked in concert with our new Governor and they were successful on several fronts. For starters, they passed a middle class tax cut of over $100 million. They extended the Private Option until 2016 with the promise of changing the program. Those changes will come through the recommendations of a legislative task force that was also set up this Session. Several bills were passed to increase funding for job training and education. And $36 million was set aside for prison and parole reform that is a solid first step in controlling prison overcrowding and recidivism.
As usual, a goodly amount of time was taken up with abortion laws, gun rights and more. One pundit characterized it as the God, guns and gays portion of the Session. The truth is that these issues come up in every Session and will in all likelihood never go away.
We have a few “take aways” from this Session. For one, Governor Asa Hutchinson is an intelligent and resourceful leader that has every intention of leading from the center and occasionally a little right of center. It also appears to us that the Governor plans to build coalitions on his big issues through use of task forces or work groups. Witness the Medicaid expansion task force and the task force to study Common Core. And we have heard that the Governor plans on selecting a work group to look at highway funding just as soon as they adjourn. We expect to see this leadership group tackle their big issues early on in their deliberations, just as they did with the tax cut and the Private Option. And finally, we expect to see continued close working relationships between the third floor and the second floor.
What have we done for our Clients lately?
ArkSHA: Continued to monitor bill amendments and committee meetings as the Session wound down.
Same Song, Different Verse……Savings!