State News for July 2017

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Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said that the state doesn’t have enough cash flow to make ordered payments
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said that the state doesn’t have enough cash flow to make ordered payments

Illinois

Illinois must reprioritize payments in order to make a dent in its $2 billion backlog of bills owed to Medicaid providers, including long-term care operators, a federal judge ordered in June.

While acknowledging that state Comptroller Susana Mendoza is in an “unenviable situation,” U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow ruled that placing state-mandated payments, such as making pension contributions rather than pay what's owed to Medicaid providers, was a violation of federal consent decrees.

Illinois has $14.9 billion in other unpaid bills, but Lefkow noted that what's needed is payments to be “sufficient to sustain the services to members of the classes.” She set June 20 as a date to reach a deal. 

In her response, Mendoza said the state's lack of a budget was to blame. It has “created a situation in which we now have more court-ordered and state-mandated payments than we have revenues to cover them,” she said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The real solution to this crisis is a comprehensive budget plan passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. Now.”

Northeast

$3k fine because CPR halted

Connecticut — A Genesis HealthCare nursing home in Connecticut was fined $3,000 when investigators found staff did not administer CPR long enough.

A resident at The Reservoir in West Hartford began having difficulty breathing in February 2016, and a licensed practical nurse began CPR compressions, according to local reports. While the facility policy stated staff must perform CPR until emergency personnel arrive, a registered nurse told the LPN to stop the compressions, the state said. The resident was dead on arrival at the hospital.

“The Reservoir received a deficiency and fine related to an incident that occurred earlier this year,” Genesis spokeswoman Jeanne Moore said in a statement to McKnight's. “We have provided additional education to our staff and are in full compliance. The Reservoir is committed to providing quality care to its patients and residents.” 

‘Ruthie's Law' advances

New York — The Erie County legislature passed a law in June designed to better inform family members when their loved one is injured in a nursing home.

“Ruthie's Law” stemmed from a Buffalo case where resident Ruth Murray, 82, died from injuries related to another resident on the dementia ward assaulting her. The family was not immediately notified of Murray's injuries. 

The local law would require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to report a patient's injuries to his or her designated representative “as soon as practical,” but not later than two hours after the injuries were found. 

Facilities also must provide reports to the commissioner regarding injury events. Enforcement will come through Erie County's Department of Senior Services. County Executive Mark Poloncarz was expected to sign the bill into law after a public hearing.  

West

Opioid scripts limited

Alaska — The Legislature passed a bill in late May to limit opioid prescriptions to a week's supply due to the state's growing opioid epidemic.

The bill was considered “relatively non-controversial,” according to station KTVA. The Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association were among supporters.

The state has had 22 overdose deaths since the beginning of 2017, with three recent fentanyl-related overdoses. It is believed two-thirds of the state's overdose deaths are related to prescription medications.

The bill, HB 159, also lets patients opt into a voluntary non-opioid directive.

Medicaid-for-all bill 

Nevada — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed a bill that would have permitted almost anyone in need of health insurance to sign up for Medicaid. 

It included those receiving subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act: They could have applied federal tax subsidies to purchase a Medicaid plan. It's likely the options would be under the state-run health insurance exchange, The Fiscal Times reported.

If Sandoval had not vetoed the bill, it would have become law. He could have signed it or opted to negotiate implementation. This could have included receiving a waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It was unclear whether the Trump administration would have allowed the Nevada plan to move forward.

Plains

Bill to ease job mandates

Oklahoma — A controversial bill meant to eliminate the requirement for nursing home administrators to have a four-year degree has failed, but supporters said it would be considered in the next state session.

The bill would allow for 10 years of supervisory experience, with five years of work as an assistant in lieu of a degree.