Every year several bills are introduced that the SCSHL monitors. Legislation is also introduced from the SCSHL resolutions that are presented to the General Assembly and others, such as state agencies. Some legislation, from 10 to 15 bills, have our attention to support each year throughout the process.
Presented here are issues that have been advocated by the SCSHL through the last several years which turned into legislation with positive results.
2002 - Criminal Background Checks - H-3145, Ratified 294, Act 242-2002
While this piece of legislation was introduced in 2001, no action was taken until 2002 in the legislation requiring both State and Federal Criminal Background Checks for all Nursing Home, Adult Day Care, Home Health Agencies and Community Residential Care Facilities. The legislation was ratified (R-294) by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor, (Act 242) near the close of the Session.
2002 - State Nursing Homes Bed Tax - JR-4498, Ratified 176, Act 370-2002
Early in the Session a joint resolution of 2002 was introduced and passed to require every nursing home bed in South Carolina be taxed $3.00 per bed per day and the state to apply the revenue toward a Medicaid grant to support a 3 to 1 ratio requirement to receive funds for the state Medicaid program. Upon knowledge of this tax, the SCSHL opposed and was able to get support of the General Assembly to repeal (JR-4498) R-176 A370 amended into the 2002 state budget. Other bills had been introduced to repeal the bed tax as well.
2003 - SC Health and Human Services Reorganization and Accountability Act of 2003
H-3586, Ratified 125, Act 59-2003
While this legislation was to recognize the Department of Health and Human Services, SCSHL was able to incorporate our interested legislation, Interstate Bulk Prescription Drug Program and to amend the entire South Carolina Retirees and Individuals Pooling Together for Savings Act (SCRIPTS) into the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services bill.
Act 59 was enacted, known as the SCRIPTS, which created a program to provide prescription drugs at a reduced cost to non Medicaid senior residents to be administered by the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, to establish an annual enrollment fee which must be fully funded by the administration of the program; to authorize the department to seek necessary waivers, to combine negotiating powers to attain reduced prescription drug cost for program enrollees, and to contract with other states and entities to assist in administering this program; and to require the department to report to the General Assembly annually on the Program. This legislation was signed by the Governor at the end of the 2003 session H3586 R125 Act 59. A similiar bill was introduced in the state Senate as well.
2003 - Volunteer Long Term Care Advocate / Ombudsman Program - H3220
This legislation would set up a volunteer ombudsman program in South Carolina so that needed volunteers could help full-time ombudsmen to monitor state nursing home facilities. Because of some legislative and administrative technicalities, the bill was referred back to the Ways and Means Committee which killed the bill. Much objections by the nursing home industry was a leading factor in its demise.
2004 - FBI Criminal Checks for Nursing Homes - H-3987, Ratified 414, Act 264-2004
The House bill was introduced in 2003 and stalled in the Senate. The legislation would remove some of the present law requiring students to have criminal background checks because of their limited exposure and training time in the field. It would also require multiple nursing facilities of a single owner to only require the employee to display the record check at the employment agency or home office of the employer. This bill passed in the 2004 Session.
2005 – Geriatrics Student Loan Forgiveness Program – H-3741, Ratified 209, Act 165-2005
In 2005 legislation was introduced to set up a program, under the Lieutenant Governor’s Office of Aging, to allow partial payment of medical student loans, with a limited number of students each year, to continue their education in geriatrics with certain requirements, and to set up a Physician Advisory Board. While this was not one of SCSHL resolutions for the year, the bill received total encouragement and passed through the legislature in a very short period of time.
2005 – Authorize Monthly Payments on Property Taxes – H-3305, Ratified 143, Act 136-2005
Legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate to allow individual homeowners, if they choose, to pay taxes on a monthly as well as quarterly basis in order to alleviate one large sum to pay when tax payments are due. Payments would have minor requirements. The House version was passed by the General Assembly.
2005 – Alternative Method for Health Care Power of Attorney – H-3224, Ratified 179, Act 172-2005
Legislation passed relating to Health Care Power of Attorney to allow an individual to sue and set-up directed issues known as the “Five Wishes” program for (a) maintenance of health care, (b) kind of medical treatment, (c) comfortability, (d) how to be treated by others and (e) what loved ones should know. Information can be obtained from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging at 1-800-868-9095.
2005 – South Carolina Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Developing and Managing a Volunteer Program
The SCSHL became involved with the LGOA, other state agencies, and the South Carolina Nursing Home Association, to develop a compromise to allowing individuals to act as volunteer ombudsman to assist in comforts of residents in South Carolina Nursing Homes. Alterations in the state budget bill would allow the LGOA to administer the adopted procedures for the “volunteer”, non-policing assistance program.
2006 – Prescription Drug Discount Cards – H-3711, Ratified 403, Act 377
Legislation will set up a consumer card under the Prescription Drug Discount Card Registration Act directed by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Department will promulgate rules and regulations for such business entities to do business in South Carolina, to make such cards available to the consumer. Contact the Department of Consumer Affairs for information at 803-734-4200 or www.scconsumer.gov.
2006 – Amending the South Carolina Retirees and Individual Pooling Together for Savings (SCRIPTS)
with Silver Card Program – H-3221, Ratified 231, Act 233-2006
The main purpose of this bill was to encompass the old Silver Card law for those individuals between the poverty level and those individuals under the SCRIPTS program. Amendments to this legislation were proposed to incorporate the SCRIPTS Silver Card program into South Carolina Medicare Part D to provide all low-income seniors in South Carolina assistance with their costs for prescription drugs. The program will be administered through the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The South Carolina Seniors Prescription Drug Program Act was repealed (Code of Laws, Chapter 44, Section 130); instead, what is known as the GAPS prescription coverage program was created.
2006 – Create a South Carolina Affordable Housing Study Committee
H-4723, Ratified 428, Act 452-2006
This legislation, vetoed by the governor and overridden by the House and Senate, would set up an advisory commission to study the affordable housing needs under the Office of the Lieutenant Governor creating the Division on Affordable Housing. The Commission would consist of different housing entities made up of government, private and legislative appointees. Designees consist of 15 plus organizations and would be dissolved by January 15, 2009 after reporting to the Governor and legislative bodies. The bill became law without the Governor’s signature.
2006 – Revenues from Bingo Card Charges to Division on Aging Senior Centers
H-3949, Ratified 411, Act 357-2006
The legislation would reinstate some of the state revenues to the Office on Aging for the senior centers permanent improvement fund. Monies were taken away in years past by “profit” bingos established as “non-profit” bingos which do not pay taxes on revenues. Now all classes of bingo licenses will pay to the state, a percentage of revenue form the sale of each card sold and part of these funds would be distributed equally among the 46 counties for building construction and renovation. The Act takes effect on July 1, 2007.
2006 – Setting up Enforcement Powers and Referrals of Reports to SLED by the State Ombudsman, licensed by various State Agencies – S-1116, Ratified 301, Act 301-2006
This legislation establishes the “Vulnerable Adults Investigations Unit” where the State Ombudsman can report abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults in facilities, which are licensed by DDSN and DSS, to SLED for enforcement follow-up as necessary. Actions will be taken by the State Attorney General. A Facilities Review Committee would also be set up to make recommendations plus other issues, when death occurs in nursing facilities.