Sunday, February 12, 2012

No shocks for seniors in Governor’s Regulatory Agenda


Each year Pennsylvania regulatory agencies are required to publish an agenda of regulations that are under development or consideration. The agendas are intended to provide members of the regulated community with advance notice of regulatory activity and to increase public participation in the regulatory process.

The Governor’s Regulatory Agenda published on Saturday February 12, 2012 shows that Pennsylvania’s Departments of Aging and Welfare are considering some important regulatory changes. However, regulatory changes by these agencies are being constrained by the maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirements in the federal health reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

The MOE provisions prohibit states from making it more difficult for people to become eligible for Medicaid until the major components of health reform go into effect no later than January 1, 2014. The idea is to prevent budget strapped states from trying to save money by imposing new eligibility limitations on Medicaid.

As a result, the Department of Welfare’s ability to make regulatory changes is limited in a majority of the areas of its budget. On the other hand, the Department is relatively free to implement regulatory changes that it feels will reduce costs in areas that are completely state-funded programs and in provider rates.   

The Governor’s Agenda represents the Administration's present intentions regarding future regulations. Things may change (and often do). Here is a list of some of the regulatory matters under consideration which might significantly impact seniors.

DEPARTMENT OF AGING

Protective Services for Older Adults (PA Code Title VI Chapter 15). The Older Adults Protective Services Act is under review in light of current interest in enhancing protections for vulnerable Pennsylvanians, the decision of the PA Supreme Court in Nixon et al. v. Commonwealth, et al. (which found the current protective services law to be unconstitutional) and numerous technical and administrative provisions that need to be revised. Regulations are routinely being reviewed as numerous pieces of pending legislation are being considered in addition to this omnibus proposal. Estimated for December 2012.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (PA Code Title VI Chapter 23). The Department wishes to promulgate regulations for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program in order to bring it into conformity with national standards. Estimated for June 2012.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE

Pharmacy Benefit Package Change (55 Pa. Code Chapter 1121).  Act 22 of 2011 requires the Department to establish benefit packages for pharmacy services for medical assistance recipients 21 years of age or older, and any exceptions to such benefit packages as the Department determines are appropriate during state fiscal year 2011-2012. This regulation package is codifying the pharmacy benefit package changes which were published in the Pharmacy Benefit Package notice at 41 Pa.B. 6455 (December 3, 2011). Estimated for June 2012.

 State Supplementary Payment Levels (55 Pa. Code Chapter 299). The purpose of this final-omitted rulemaking is to codify the SSP levels in the text of 55 Pa. Code § 299.37 and to rescind Appendix A (relating to SSP payment levels). This regulation is being promulgated under the authority of Act 2011-22. Estimated for April 2012

Long Term Living Home and Community Based Services (55 Pa. Code Chapter 52). The regulation will establish provider qualifications and payment provisions for providers rendering services under the Aging, Attendant Care, COMMCARE, Independence and OBRA Home and Community Based Service waivers and the Act 150 program. This regulation is being promulgated under the authority of Act 2011-22. Estimated for April 2012.

Appeal and Fair Hearing and Administrative Disqualification Hearings (55 Pa. Code Chapter 275). This regulation will update definitions, streamline administrative practices, and incorporate hearing procedures that will support efficiency in the hearing and appeals process. Estimated for July 2012.

DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
In addition to the above, the Department of Revenue is proposing to codify its policy for taxation of estates and trusts and to amend existing regulations in regard to realty transfer taxes. Both actions may have implications for planning for seniors.

Amendments to Estates and Trusts—Personal Income Tax Regulations (61 Pa. Code Chapters 101, 103, 105, and 117). The Department is promulgating this regulation to codify the Department's policy for the taxation of estates and trusts in the Commonwealth and to provide clear instructions for taxpayers regarding reporting requirements. Estimated for July 2012.

Amendments to Realty Transfer Tax Regulations (61 Pa. Code Chapter 91).  Proposed Regulation published at 41 Pa.B. 6220 (November 19, 2011). Final Amendments to the Realty Transfer Tax regulations are being proposed to improve the clarity and effectiveness of the regulations. Estimated for December 2012.

For More information
The Governor’s Regulatory Agenda as published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday February 12, 2012.

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