DHHS Highlights Newsletter: Volume 3 Issue 3

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Friday, January 22, 2016| Vo. 3, No. 3

DHHS Highlights is published by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for those interested in the latest information on health and human services issues. Please subscribe to or share the newsletter by clicking on the "Share" button.


DHHS Legislative Bills Create Opportunities to Reduce Regulations,
Improve Services

The Department’s 2016 legislative package includes eight bills that provide DHHS the opportunity to reduce regulatory complexity, create a more effective state government, and improve supports for Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens.

“These bills reflect the work at DHHS to improve transparency, compliance and reduce regulatory overlap and complexity between federal and state laws and regulations,” said DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips.  “The Department is grateful to the bill sponsors for working with us on these initiatives, and also our stakeholders for their diligent and constructive feedback throughout the drafting process.  When passed, these bills will make a positive impact on furthering our mission of helping Nebraskans live better lives.”

Eric Evans, CEO of Disability Rights Nebraska said, “We were pleased that the Division of Developmental Disabilities identified the inconsistency with the definition of intellectual disability in Nebraska statutes and provided an opportunity to collaborate on LB 1039 to make an improvement.  Although we didn’t end up with something that completely addressed all our concerns with the issue, it’s a good first step, and we look forward to working with DHHS through the legislative process and in the future.”   

Annette Dubas, Executive Director of the Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations said, “Since NABHO was instrumental in crafting the existing managed care contract statute, we appreciate Director Lynch including us in the discussion for the proposed changes included in LB 1011.  We thank him for recognizing the value of our previous work and maintaining language to provide direction and structure for future contracts, as well as the needed flexibility.”  Calder Lynch is the Director of the DHHS Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care.

There are no new spending requirements associated with the implementation of any of these bills.  The bills are listed below in order of introduction, for consideration by the 104th Legislature, 2nd Session.  A more detailed description is also available.

LB 816 by Senator Scheer, will align Nebraska law with the federal Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA), which provides the mechanism for patient privacy but also allows for certain sharing of information. Under Nebraska law, DHHS has had difficulty providing information to other institutions that involve patients at DHHS facilities. Having the ability to share this information is crucial to providing timely and quality treatment.  The bill also terminates duplicative reporting requirements related to the Nebraska Family Helpline.  

LB 859 by Senator Campbell, will provide protection from federal antitrust lawsuits for DHHS and for members of licensing boards in performing their responsibilities while also retaining the ability for licensing boards to address unlicensed practice. This change will allow boards to make recommendations to DHHS in order for a Cease and Desist letter to be generated, and remove the direct authority for the board to issue such a letter as is allowed by the current statute.  The U.S. Supreme Court decision North Carolina State Bd. Of Dental Examiners v FTC, February 2015, necessistated this legislative change.

LB 869 by Senator Crawford, requires that specified high-risk Nebraska Medicaid providers and persons with 5 percent or more ownership with that provider submit fingerprints for nationwide criminal background checks. Completing a background check is required to comply with federal regulations and for Nebraska Medicaid to continue receiving federal financial participation for Medicaid. The provider is responsible for the fees associated with fingerprinting.

LB 899 by Senator Baker, will update the definition of “lead free” in the Nebraska Safe Drinking Water Act to conform to the federal definition.  The federal definition was amended in 2011 and became effective in 2014. Nebraska is required to have laws as stringent as the federal laws and regulations. Public water systems have been following the federal law since 2014, however Nebraska needs this change to enforce the drinking water program in the state.  

LB 924 by Senator Kolterman, would allow a non-custodial parent who is not in arrears in his/her child support payments the option to make child support payments outside the income withholding process.  This may expedite payments when a non-custodial parent’s employer is slow remitting payments or if the parent changes jobs frequently.

LB 963 by Senator Fox, makes two changes to the Area Agencies (AAA) on Aging statutes by updating the area plan submission timeframes to mirror federal regulations and repeals an outdated maintenance of funding requirement for four of the AAA’s. 

LB 1011 by Senator Campbell, makes changes to the Nebraska statute with regard to the financial and operational requirements for the administration of Medicaid behavioral health managed care. Three provisions inhibit Nebraska Medicaid’s ability to realize the financial and health outcome advantages of integrating benefits and services through the implementation of Heritage Health.  The Heritage Health managed care contracts will be awarded in March 2016 and go live in January 2017.

LB 1039 by Senator Coash, will clarify the definition of the term intellectual disability.  The current definitions in statute are in multiple locations and not consistent. This update will add clarity and consistency with generally accepted psychological standards.