Uncategorized 2014 legislation affecting Hoosier seniors

2014 legislation affecting Hoosier seniors

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Each year, legislation is drafted to address issues concerning Indiana’s aging community. During the 2014 legislative session, a number of proposals gained final approval and will become law.

Many circumstances arise when an incapacitated individual is no longer able to make decisions on their own. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 59 allows a guardian, including a volunteer advocates for senior program or a volunteer advocates for incapacitated adults program, to request permission to file a petition for divorce, legal separation, or annulment of marriage on behalf of an incapacitated person. Under this law, the court may grant these requests on behalf of an incapacitated person only if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that petitioning for a divorce, a legal separation, or an annulment is in the best interests of the incapacitated person. The act lays out several guidelines regarding who may request permission to file a petition and who is liable for court fees.

To further study Indiana’s communities and how they can better help residents age in place, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1391 establishes the Community Living Pilot Program beginning January 1, 2015, until June 30, 2017, and sets forth eligibility requirements to participate in the program. The act requires the Division of Aging to administer the program, establish a cost participation schedule, and establish certain standards for the program. Additionally, the act sets into place asset limitations within the Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled(CHOICE) Program from $500,000 to $250,000, and specifies certain exemptions, and requires annual adjustment of the asset limitation using the federal Consumer Price Index, and made other changes to the CHOICE program.  The act also requires reporting of program data and outcome measures concerning the program to various entities on specified dates, and allows the division to audit and penalize an area agency on aging for any violations. The act repeals a provision establishing a pilot program for certain Medicaid populations and participation in a risk-based managed care program (effective immediately). Finally, the act requires the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services to submit to the General Assembly reports on nursing facility beds, long term care, and any risk-based managed care program for certain Medicaid recipients.

HEA 1258 requires the Medical Licensing Board to establish a pilot program before August 1, 2014, to provide telehealth services to patients in Indiana and report to the General Assembly concerning the outcomes of the pilot program. Telehealth Services include the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide access to health assessments, diagnosis, intervention, consultation, treatment, supervision, and other information across a distance. Before the earlier of six months after the completion of the pilot program, or February 1, 2015, the board is required to report to the General Assembly the number of patients served, the number of prescriptions issued, the number of in-person follow up care required, and the overall physician and patient satisfaction.The act also sets forth requirements of the pilot program and establishes time frames for the expiration of the pilot program, the latest of which is July 1, 2016.

Under SEA 176, the expansion of mass transit services in Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Madison and Marion counties will be approved through local public questions placed on the ballot this November. The measure authorizes eligible counties to fund approved public transportation projects through raising various tax rates slightly, including income tax rates, while fares will cover 25 percent of the costs associated with expanded mass transit services. As the initiative passed the Senate, the use of light rail in the project was expressly denied. However, the bill was amended in the House of Representatives to reverse the provision banning light rail as a part of the expansion of mass transit.

As the proposal moved through the conference committee process, the light rail provision was, again, blocked from being in the final version of the proposal. The provision requiring the business community from providing 10 percent of the costs associated with expanded mass transit services was also removed in the conference committee process. Instead, the legislation would set up a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise 10 percent of the cost from the business community. If that goal is not reached, the burden of raising that revenue would fall on local governments. Finally, the conference committee included a provision that would allow local townships to opt-in with respect to establishing or expanding mass transit services in Central Indiana.