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2015 Legislative Session Summary
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The legislative session ended on April 28, the earliest adjournment date in about 40 years, although as much legislation as usual was introduced – 1402 House bills and 1426 Senate bills. All bills that were not processed this year remain pending in 2016, the second year of the two year term of the 109th General Assembly.

This report is a summary of the issues and bills considered to be of the most interest to LeadingAge Tennessee members. For a complete list of all the legislation tracked this session, please call our office at 615-255-2643.

The State Budget for fiscal year ‘15-’16 originally included a 1% cut for all TennCare providers because non-recurring funds were used last year to eliminate a proposed cut. However, Governor Haslam and legislators dodged that bullet by adding another round of non-recurring funding so that rates are not cut as of July 1. This means we will face the possibility of cuts again in the following fiscal year unless additional funding is again found.

Annual legislation includes the extension of the nursing home assessment fee (formerly called the nursing home bed tax) and the extension of the moratorium on the issuance of CONs for new nursing home beds. This year, SB574/HB515 (Overbey/Harrison) extended the annual nursing home assessment through June 30, 2016, and adjusted the payments required by continuing care retirement centers. See a copy of the final amendatory language. SB573/HB517 (Overbey/Harrison) extended the current CON moratorium on nursing home beds and the mechanism for limited approval of skilled nursing beds for another year.

SB112/HB101 (Norris/McCormick), a Haslam administration bill that passed, gives the Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities the ability to amend licensure rules to be consistent with federal regulations related to HCBS services.

SB409/HB229, also approved, authorizes pharmacies to participate in drug disposal programs and requires the state board of pharmacy to maintain a list of licensed pharmacies in the state that do so.

Two bills that passed as well, SB889/HB714 (Kelsey/Wilburn) and SB892/HB1003 (Kelsey/Lundberg), respectively, limit the use of survey and inspection information of health care providers in advertisements (and in civil actions to some degree) and specifiy what “information relevant to the analysis and evaluation of the plaintiff’s claim” is to be disclosed in a health care liability case.

Four bills of interest did not pass this year. SB567/HB604, SB568/HB621, SB569/HB231, and SB571/HB812 (all sponsored by Overbey/HBs by Durham, Farmer, Shepard, and Littleton) were, briefly, aimed at ensuring 1. “licensed entities providing LTC are subject to the same licensure requirements,” 2. prohibiting TennCare requirements for nursing homes unless specifically permitted by federal or state statute or rule, 3. requiring TennCare to report amounts paid to MCOs for LTC services, and 4. expediting determination of eligibility of applicants for nursing home and HCBS care.

Because there has been much turnover in the General Assembly in the past 3-4 years, we encourage LeadingAge members to reach out to both senior and newer legislators for meetings and visits to your programs. They are now out of session, and this is the best time for outreach and general education.

We look forward to working with you in the coming weeks and months in order to be as prepared as possible for the 2016 legislative session. January 12 will be here before we know it!

- Meagan & Anne
Meagan Frazier & Anne Carr
Smith Harris & Carr
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