2009 Legislative Session - Highlights
- Open Doors Home Health Care Act - The Coalition led a successful effort to essentially repeal 2008 TennCare rules that prohibited home health aides from providing services to their clients in community settings. For example, home health aides will now be able to attend a doctor's appointment with a client, attend church with a client or even assist with a client with volunteer, educational or entertainment opportunities in the community.
- Adult Care Home Act - This law supplements 2008's long-term care reforms. It establishes a class of adult care homes that are defined as single family homes in which 24-hour residential care is provided to no more than five seniors or persons with a disability. The purpose is to provide another option in community care for individuals who want to remain as independent as possible while also avoiding the need for nursing home care.
- Adult Helment Law - Defeated legislation that would have exempted persons 21 and older from helmet requirements for motorcycle riders.
- Certified Medication Technicians - This law also builds on the 2008 long-term care reforms by creating a category of licensure for certified medication technicians. These individuals can administer certain medications in nursing homes or assisted living facilities under the general supervision of a licensed nurse. The desire is to create greater flexibility in the provision of services while also freeing up nurses to focus on other duties.
- Nursing Home Profit Protection Act (aka Tort Reform) - Defeated legislation that limits the legal liability of nursing homes for abuse and neglect.
2008 Legislative Session - Highlights
- Claire's Law - The Coalition led successful effort to pass legislation ensuring that every child born in Tennessee will be tested for hearing loss or referred for testing to ensure they receive treatment early.
- Long-Term Care Community Choices Act - The Coalition was founded upon the conviction that people with disabilities should be able to receive services in the home rather than be forced to live in institutions. This groundbreaking law establishes the framework for re-inventing long-term care in Tennessee so that citizens have a greater voice in their health care supports and might maintain their independence.
- Restraint and Seclusion Modernization Act - The Coalition supported successful efforts to reform and limit the use of restraints and isolation on students who are in special education programs.
- Fulfill the Promise - This legislation did not become law due to budgetary constraints; however, it garnered significant support in the General Assembly and provided an opportunity to educate legislators about the lack of services for persons with a developmental disability other than mental retardation (intellectual disability).
- Tennessee Disability Act - Updated parts of the Tennessee Code to include "People First" language as well as designate a section of the code that has unofficially become known in legal circles as the "Tennessee Disability Act"
2007 Legislative Session - Highlights
- Due Process - The Coalition worked with Special Education Advocates to help pass legislation to reinforce and strengthen a parent's rights under the IDEA.
- Voters with Disabilities - The Coalition passed legislation updating the Tennessee Code as it pertains to voting with people first and ADA language.
- Police & Mental Health Training - The Coalition consulted on legislation that would require greater training of police officers so that they can better respond to individuals with a mental health problem.
- Vision Screenings - Legislation was passed that authorized schools to provide eye examinations for students who cannot afford one.
- Handicap Parking Placards -
Legislation as passed that exempts persons with a permanent disability
from having to furnish a physician's statement with each renewal.
2006 Legislative Session - Highlights
This session was in many ways a quiet one whose results were a mixed bag. Among the highlights:
- Passage of the Autism Equity Act - This should make it easier for many Tennessee children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to get the treatment they need. For more information about Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders visit the Autism Society of Tennessee at www.tnautism.org.
- TennCare Improvements - Legislators stepped up to improve access to health insurance for many Tennesseeans who are uninsurable and were cut from TennCare last year. The Odom/Jackson bill will provide assistance for 20,000 to 25,000 of the 67,000 uninsurable people in need. Legislators can add additional funds next year once the program gets started. The administration has committed to begin working on this immediately and legislators want to see this program started as soon as possible. To learn more about the state of TennCare visit the Tennessee Health Care Campaign at www.tenncare.org.
- Developmental Disabilities Services
- The legislature passed legislation establishing a departmental task
force to conduct statewide assessment to study needs of persons with a
developmental disability other than mental retardation for whom
comprehensive home and community based services do not exist and to
develop plan to provide cost-effective home and community-based
services for such persons.
However, there were disappointments.
- Intermediate Care Facility/Mental Retardation Expansion - In 2005 the legislature passed a resolution supporting a move away from our state's dependence on institutionalization so that we can focus our attention more effectively on home and community-based services. However, this session a bill was passed that continues our historical reliance on instutitions by increasing the number of private ICF/MR beds in the state. It does this with no provisions for moving individuals out of ICF/MRs or for increasing or even studying ways to improve access to home and community-based services. In fact, the legislation may open the door to legitimizing even more ICF/MR beds down the road.