Monday, January 23, 2006

First look at 2006 WV Legislation and seniors; and it's not "HIPPA," it's "HIPAA"

You'll be the smartest one on your block if you learn that the infamous HIPAA (with 2 A's, one P) is actually the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. Not HIPPA.

And back to things that really matter, our state legislature is now in its annual 2 month regular session. The state Bureau of Senior Services kindly publishes a weekly legislative roundup of the status of bills affecting seniors. From that large list I cooked down a few to keep an eye on:

Many about healthcare, including:
  • requiring itemized statements of services billed for Medicaid recipients (SB 79, HB 2318)
  • a good samaritan-type law waiving liability for physicians providing services to indigent people (SB 82)
  • requiring health insurance policies to cover acupuncture (SB 104. 190)
  • creating an Alzheimer's Caregiver Assistance Program (SB 109) and establishing an Alzheimer's Disease Registry (SB 112)
  • authorizing dispensing and delivery of drugs to remote health clinics (SB 143)
  • establishing the WV Fair Share Health Care Act allowing the state to offset healthcare costs from large employers who spend too little on employee health bene's (SB 147)
  • permitting physicians to issue "do not resuscitate" orders on patients who lack healthcare decisionmaking capacity and for whom CPR would not be effective (SB 161, HB 4022)
  • exempting from the Medicaid preferred drug list certain anti-psychotic drugs for certain high-risk patients (HB 2406)
  • making in-home care available on a sliding fee scale for seniors age 65+ (HB 2324)
  • requiring Alzheimer's training for certain personnel of longterm care facilities and adult day care facilities (HB 2649)
  • establishes information sharing between pharmacies to prevent multiple prescriptions abuse (HB 2768)
  • prohibiting pharmacists from refusing to fill prescriptions without valid reason (HB 2807)
  • creates voluntary state income tax check-off to develop pharmaceutical assistance program for WV seniors (HB 3265)
Some particularly about nursing homes:
  • adds "nursing homes" to the list of facilities whose certain unlicensed staff are authorized to administer drug (HB 2138)
  • permits electronic monitoring of nursing home residents by themselves or their representatives (HB 2272)
  • creates quality assurance program for nursing homes (HB 2281)
  • requiring specific staffing levels in nursing homes and providing penalties for non-compliance (HB 2360)
Some about consumer issues, including:
  • creating a physician's lien on injury awards and settlements (SB 48)
  • creating an Insurance Advocacy Unit within the state Attorney General's Office (SB 140)
  • requiring consumer notification of negative credit ratings (SB 185)
  • eliminating the 90-day mandatory reinstatement of lapsed auto insurance policies (SB 198)
  • prohibiting non-renewal of auto and property insuance policies (SB 203)
  • exempting seniors age 65+ from having to pay the fees associated with redemption of property from tax sale within 2 years (HB 2097)
  • requiring hospitals to disclose their infection rates (HB 2180)
  • making the senior discount at campgrounds and parks year-round (HB 2300)
  • requiring grab bars to be installed in all hotel and motel baths and showers (HB 2312)
  • reducing the statute of limitation on consumers filing actions regarding revolving credit against creditors pursuant to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) from 4 years to 1 year (HB 3113)
  • eliminating the probate of uncontested small estates (HB 3221)
  • increasing the amount of the homestead tax exemption from $20,000 to $50,000 (HJR 1) or from $20,000 to $40,000 (HJR 06, and 19)
Some about abuse, neglect, and protection issues:
  • requiring Adult Protective Services to complete a face-to-face interview with an adult reported to be abused or neglected within 14 days of the report, and within 72 hours if imminent danger or serious physical abuse is alleged in the report (HB 2048)
  • adding identity theft to the list of crimes for which victims can get victims compensation funds awarded (HB 2049)
  • creating a program to reprogram and distribute (HB 2067, 2842)
And one that defies normal categorization: raising the age for which one may request to be excused from jury duty from 65 to 70 (HB 2013).

And this is just the beginning of the session, so there will likely be more bills affecting seniors in the next weeks.

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