Advocacy

 

Good Monday morning to all. As last week progressed, it was brought to the attention of the Legislative Committee that some local health departments were telling funeral directors as of August 1, paper death certificates WOULD NOT be accepted any longer. That information is NOT correct. The new change in the law regarding hospice doctors participating does not mean that all death certificates would be completed electronically. Until the details of the mandatory participation are ironed out, there will continue to be some cases where paper death certificates can be used. Paper death certificates may be generated by the EDRS Drop to Paper function, or by individual hospitals that are not yet participating in the EDRS and require a death certificate be signed prior to the release of remains to the funeral home. This committee still suggests that funeral homes continue to recommend to doctors to sign up, as the time for mandatory participation is coming. The new outline provided by the Division of Vital Records as to how and what type of death certificates will be accepted at your local Health Department was sent via email for your reference. Your local health department should have already received this email detailing the changes. If for some reason a completed paper death certificate is rejected by your local health department, please take this document to them and show them that until mandatory participation is announced, certain types of paper death certificates must be accepted. If resistance is still met, please have your local registrar call Janet Rainey, and please contact the association and we will provide any assistance we can!

Check the Resource Center under Death Certificates for more information.

Thanks,
Jay McIntyre, CFSP
Legislative Committee Chair
McMullen Funeral Home
540.833.2891
540.421.6585
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Good afternoon,

The following is a link to information regarding a Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) promulgated by the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers regarding the funeral intern program. The NOIRA will be published on August 6, 2018, in The Virginia Register of Regulations.

A Public Comment period for the NOIRA will begin on August 6, 2018, and end on September 5, 2018.

Please provide any comment directly through the Virginia Regulatory Townhall, or directly to Corie Tillman Wolf, Executive Director, at Corie.Wolf@dhp.virginia.gov or to Elaine Yeatts, Senior Policy Analyst, at Elaine.Yeatts@dhp.virginia.gov.

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Legislative Message from Jay McIntyre, Legislative Chair – August 1, 2018

Good day to you all. I hope that as you read this letter today, you are finding new and great success with your local hospice providers as they further their usage of the EDRS. Since hospice deaths account for nearly 50% of all deaths in Virginia, it was our intention with this legislation to take a big bite in to the apple (EDRS) to achieve the most success. As we turn the calendar to August, the grace period allowed by the Division of Vital Records has now expired. If doctors were not aware of the change in the law on July 1st, hopefully they are have been informed of the change. By now, most, if not all hospices have experienced a death of one of their patients. No longer will doctors who oversee any hospice programs be able to sign paper death certificates. They must all be started and completed by the funeral home, sent to the medical certifier for completion, and then returned to and sent to the health department by the funeral home electronically. If in the time since the change on July 1st you have given the hospice providers the information regarding the change of law and they have objected, we are here to help. This association, and the legislative committee will reach out to the doctor personally and if no progress is made with him/her we will reach out directly to their licensing board. That being said, in order for us to be effective as possible, we will need you as the funeral home to alert the association as soon as the issue arises. We also need the exact name and date of death of the deceased as well as the date the DC was submitted to the doctor and/or dropped off to his/her practice. As an association, we want to use any kind of leverage we have in helping you, rather than you as a business owner taking this issue upon yourself individually. Please let the association act on your behalf and “be the bad guy”. If you have any questions, please either reach out to me, Lacy, or Larry Spiaggi. We are here to help and hope that you will allow us to do so.

Thanks,

Jay McIntyre
Legislative Committee Chair
McMullen Funeral Home
540.833.2891
540.421.6585

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VFDA Legislation Effective Today July 1, 2018

Good Morning to all the members. As I prepared to type this letter to you explaining the new changes set to begin today (July 1), it quickly crossed my mind that we are now halfway through the year. Where has the time gone? Perhaps it was the long lingering cold weather, or the monsoon season we have experienced with record levels rains. Either way, July 1, the new changes to all legislation begin. The VFDA continued our legislative success this year with getting one major bill passed, supporting two other bills, and not supporting two other bills relative to our industry. We also worked closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the Medical Society of Virginia, to table a piece of legislation. I wanted to send this letter this morning just to remind and review the changes coming.

1. The main piece of VFDA Legislation was HB1158 and SB309 which were carried by Delegate Tony Wilt and Senator John Cosgrove. This legislation mandates that all hospice providers participate in the EDRS. It also means that funeral home participation is mandatory. This mandate also applies to certificates for the Teaching Hospitals (UVA and MCV/VCU) no longer will funeral homes be able to take paper death certificate copies to the hospice, they must now all accept and sign certificates through the EDRS. The exact wording is as follows:

a. VFDA’S proactive legislation requires a licensed funeral director, funeral service licensee, or representative of the office of the state anatomical program who first assumes custody of a dead body to complete and file a certificate of death with the State Registrar of Vital Records using the Electronic Death Registration System and provides that when a death occurs under the care of a hospice provider, the medical certification shall be completed by the decedent’s health care provider and filed electronically with the State Registrar of Vital Records using the Electronic Death Registration System for completion of the death certificate.

2. This Committee also supported but did not give full backing to two other bills. First was SB831. Senator Bryce Reeves carried this legislation which in the end requires that funeral homes accept third party merchandise. It seems that some may still not follow what is required in the FTC Funeral Rule, but together with Senator Reeves, the committee and lobbyists were able to amend his legislation to prevent the sale of merchandise by anyone other than a Funeral Service Licensee. The final wording is as follows:

a. SB831 would require funeral homes to accept third-party caskets, which VFDA supported amendment that brought the activity into compliance with current federal law

3. This Committee also supported SB143, carried by Senator Lionell Spruill. This piece of legislation is going to benefit our industry in the state going forward. It allows for a student under supervision of an FSL to participate in the preparation room while attending an accredited Mortuary Service program. Now, an FSL can serve as a preceptor to a student, who may not have an intern’s license. In a roundabout way, this may give a manager a chance to see and work with a student without having to hire them. The wording of the bill is as follows:

a. SB143 Requires every public institution of higher education that offers a degree in mortuary science to require students to complete practical experience in the areas of funeral service and embalming prior to graduation from such program. The bill also provides that a person who is duly enrolled in a mortuary education program may assist in embalming while under the supervision of a funeral service licensee or embalmer with an active, unrestricted license issued by the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, provided that such embalming occurs in a funeral service establishment licensed by the Board and in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board

4. There are also two pieces of legislation this committee did not support. First, was HB351, carried by Delegate Christopher Head. The wording of this bill allowed for Medical Certifiers to opt out of signing up for the EDRS if he/she chose to. This is clearly counterproductive to the efforts put forth by this committee, association, at its lobbyists. Fortunately, Delegate Head had his bill stricken after some explanation and further discussion.

5. The second piece the committee did not support was SB881. This was also carried by Senator Lionell Spruill. His bill asked for the addition of another non-legislative member to the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. This would have brought the number for a quorum from 5 to 6 members present. After explanation of the current board structure, Senator Spruill had his bill stricken.

6. The last piece, and perhaps the biggest piece going forward comes SB 357. Senator Jennifer McClellan was asked by a constituent to carry a piece of legislation mandating EDRS participation. Again, working cooperatively with the VDH and MSV, Senator McClellan tabled her legislation until the 2019 General Assembly Session. These groups have formed a stakeholders group that is actively working on all logistics to proceed with this piece of legislation in 2019.

As the 2019 session approaches, the legislative committee will continue to provide updates regularly about what it is we are working on. Please look for a comprehensive breakdown of the two major pieces we are working on closer to August 1, after the second stakeholders meeting. I hope you all have a wonder 4th of July and celebrate safely!

Thanks,
Jay McIntyre
Legislative Committee Chair
McMullen Funeral Home
540.833.2891 – Office

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May 2018: VFDA: A Four-Year Lookback of Service to Members Legislative Initiatives and Defense

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Electronic Death Registration Update: EDRS Stakeholders Minutes for April 26, 2018
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VFDA Legislative Updates for May/June, 2018
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In May 2017 the Shenandoah Valley Funeral Directors Association hosted a round table discussion of issues facing the industry. Not only were there funeral directors in attendance, but also five of the legislators who represent the members attended. There were three major topics discussed at this meeting, one of which was a need for Virginia to institute a Hierarchy or Order of Succession with regard to the Next of Kin. One funeral home in particular brought two examples to the meeting of issues they have encountered which could have easily been solved by having a defined Next of Kin law. While convenient, the current law in Virginia is full of gray area and ambiguity. As is common practice for the VFDA when a major issue arises, the legislative committee has begun to address this issue and how to implement some sort of law. In the late summer/fall of 2017 there were two conference calls held and some spirited debate from both sides of the issue. As a committee we decided to lay over the issue until after the 2018 General Assembly session concluded. The time has now come to re-visit the discussion and as the spring progresses, there will be further discussion.

The law from the State of Georgia is attached or follow the link here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/CFSV2/fileuploads/4946/Georgia_Law_Right_of_Final_Disposition.pdf
This law spells out in great detail the order of succession and addresses the potential issues a funeral home could face when a dispute arises. While we understand that at times having a Next of Kin law may delay some services until a dispute can be resolved, our hope and intention that as the families we serve become more and more disjointed and have disagreements more often, that this law will give our industry in this state the backbone it needs. Also included in this model law, is a designee agreement for your usage. There are some small details we will need to “clean up” to make it fit for Virginia, but so far the law in Georgia seems to be the best. I hope that during the business meeting of all the local associations at your next meeting you can discuss this topic as well and provide feedback to the VFDA office at info@vfda.net.

Thanks,
Jay McIntyre, VFDA Legislative Chair
McMullen Funeral Home, Harrisonburg
540.833.2891 – Office
540.421.6585 – Cell
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VFDA Legislative Updates for March, 2018
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VFDA Legislative Updates for February, 2018
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2018 VFDA Legislative Bill Tracking

HB379 Habeeb Chief Medical Examiner, Office of; collection of fees.

SB143 Spruill Mortuary science education; practical experience required.

SB959 McDougle Disposition of unclaimed dead body; final orders of transportation and disposition.

SB309 Cosgrove Electronic Death Registration System; implementation

HB1158 Wilt Death certificates; medical certification; electronic filing; hospice.

Oppose: SB881 Spruill Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers; membership.

Support: SB357 McClellan Death certificates; electronic filing required.

Monitor: SB831 Reeves Practice of funeral services; sale of certain items.

Monitor: HB1172 Pillion Overdose death review teams.

Monitor: HB1071 Heretick Health regulatory boards; electronic notice of license renewal.
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EYES ON RICHMOND
Can’t attend a committee meeting at the Virginia General Assembly? You can now watch online.
Enter this IP address in your web browser: http://104.236.84.169/
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Text of proposed regulations promulgated by the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers regarding clarification of permission to embalm and refrigeration of human remains. The proposed regulations will be published on December 25, 2017, in The Virginia Register of Regulations.

The Public Comment period for these proposed regulations will begin on December 25, 2017, and end on February 23, 2018.

A public hearing on these proposed regulations has also been scheduled for January 16, 2018, at 10:05 a.m., at the Department of Health Professions, 9960 Mayland Drive, Second Floor Conference Center, Board Room 2, Henrico, VA 23233.

Please provide any comment directly through the Virginia Regulatory Townhall, directly to Corie Tillman Wolf, Executive Director, or to Elaine Yeatts, Senior Policy Analyst, or in-person at the public hearing noted above.
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VFDA and MSV Joint Newsletter – October 2017
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Social Security Administration is changing the process of filing SSA-721 Statement of Death by Funeral Director.
Sample letter
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Funeral Service Bills Effective July 1, 2017

SB1048: Death certificate; amendments other than correction of information.

HB2276: Death certificate; amendments other than correction of information.

HB1846: Death certificates; filing.

Budget Language

Item 291 #c that requires state funded teaching hospitals to become fully compliant with EDRS by April 15, 2018.

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Please click here to find the March 2017 Legislative Newsletter and Update

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2017 PAC Flier

Glossary of Legislative Terms

Recognized Legislators

Virginia General Assembly