MassNAELA and elder law attorneys across the Commonwealth continue to advocate for a number of bills. In the meantime, the Conference Committee on the FY2015 Budget has been released and is in the process of being enacted and sent to the Governor for his review. Some of its provisions are of interest to elder law attorneys and those we serve:
1. The Mass Health Senior account (4000-0600) contains language preserving the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) at $72.80. (This is the amount a nursing home resident may keep each month from their income if he or she has MassHealth coverage. It is used to pay for hair or barber services, toiletries, clothing, etc)
2. The Senior account also contains nursing home bed hold language requiring nursing homes to hold beds for medical leaves not less than 10 and up to 20 days. (Again, this applies to nursing home residents whose care is covered by MassHealth. This bed hold is critical for quality of life and dignitiy, allowing residents to return to the same bed and room they resided in when they were hospitalized. The nursing home is their home, just like your home or mine, and it can be devastating to one's mental and physical well-being if they lose their "home" due to a hospitalization. This would be more likely if the bed-hold provision was not retained.
3. The budget requires written informed consent of a nursing home resident or his guardian/health care proxy prior to the administration of psychotropic medication. This is an important protection for nursing home residents, and this written informed consent ensures that such drugs will not be administered just to make residents easier to deal with, or to avoid the cost of implementing other measures to deal with the symptoms for which these medications have been abused in the past.
4. The budget requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement a public process for the granting of nursing home licenses and transfers of ownership.
PLEASE CALL THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE TODAY - TELL HIM YOU WANT THESE PROVISIONS TO STAY AS IS (PNA OF $72.80, A 10-DAY MINIMUM BEDHOLD, PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT TO ADMINISTER ANTI-PSYCHOTIC MEDICATIONS, AND A PUBLIC PROCESS FOR THE GRANTING OF NURSING HOME LICENSES AND TRANSFERS OF OWNERSHIP). His contact information is:
Office of the Governor Phone: 617.725.4005 888.870.7770 (in state)