Advocacy

 
DeathCertificatesAndEDR01102020

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January 8, 2020

Happy New Year Members! I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and a very enjoyable New Year’s celebration. We finally made it to the full participation part of EDRS… but not really. I want to let you know of a couple of changes still in the works regarding mandatory participation.

First, the law as written is in effect. Doctors should be participating in Virginia by now. As we all know, some have not chosen to do so. As a result of less than 100% of the medical certifiers in Virginia being on board, the Division of Vital Records has chosen to allow a grace period for further sign ups to occur. We have heard anywhere from 30 to 45 days which lands somewhere between January 31 and February 15. As such, we still ask that you continue getting doctors on board, because you can still use the text of the law in your favor. This grace period doesn’t mean that they don’t have to get signed up. It just says that they have a little more time to do so without penalty.

I know some of you have reached a boiling point with this issue and the folks who oversee it. Please understand, we as a committee and as an association have not been misleading you. We are still somewhat in the dark as to how this grace period will end and what will happen when it does. I want to remind you that in the December 2019 newsletter from the Board of Medicine, it did tell the doctors that they had to sign up. I will attach the clip from page 7 of the newsletter for your reference as well.

Again, please continue to notify doctors of the change. This does not mean the law is no longer there. It is still in place, and doctors still have to get signed up. They just have a little longer to do so now. As always, we are still working in the background on this matter, as I signed up two groups yesterday (January 7) and I have two more groups to work on today. Eventually, this will all be over and full usage of the EDRS will be the norm and when everyone is using it, we will all sit back and ask why we met so much resistance and why it took so long for us to get here!

Resources:
December 2019 Board of Medicine Newsletter
Doctor’s Office Letter

Thanks,
Jay McIntyre, CFSP
VFDA First Vice President
VFDA Legislative Committee Chair
Shenandoah Valley FDA Secretary
Licensed Funeral Director
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January 8, 2020

Good Morning Members. As some of you have already seen, House Bill 641, carried by delegate Chris Hurst has been shared by many in our profession. We as a Legislative Committee and as an association need your help with this bill. We need for you to reach out to either the VFDA or this committee, or directly to Delegate Hurst and his staff. WE DO NOT SUPPORT THIS BILL!!

During the 2019 General Assembly Session, this very same issue was addressed in legislation carried by Delegate Orrock and Senator Reeves. This references the decision made by the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers at their July 2018 meeting that allows for the sale of caskets by anyone. The VFDA, then President Larry Spiaggi, lobbyist Angie Bezik, and the Staff of the Independent Funeral Homes of Virginia sat down in a meeting with both patrons of the bill and re-worded the language to make it FTC Funeral Rule compliant.

When it came before committee, the questions were asked about why this was an issue, and one committee member even referenced Costco.com and Amazon.com and their funeral supply sections. Larry spoke on behalf of the bill, saying that VFDA supported it, and that the bill ensures consumer protection with regard to preneed monies. When explaining to the members of the committee that maintaining the requirement to be a funeral service licensee to sell funeral merchandise on the preneed side, kept the safeguards already in place for the consumer concerning qualification for Medicaid. This bill passed committee and the full House and Senate with a unanimous bi-partisan vote.

Now, HB641 completely undoes the work we did last year. This new language allows for ANYONE to create contracts and sell merchandise preneed. We cannot support this bill in any way. The consumer protections we kept in place last year, are completely undone with this bill. In this scenario, if someone does not properly trust the money when paying for merchandise, as it would be correctly handled through a funeral home preneed contract, could very easily lose not only their money, but their ability to qualify for Medicaid. We protected that most important part of preneed last year, and we certainly do not want to see that changed this year.

As to the section about funeral homes not having to store third-party caskets on a pre-need basis, this is already addressed in the FTC funeral rule.

Please, either reach out to Delegate Hurst and his staff, or to the VFDA and the Legislative Committee so that we can work promptly to remove this bill!

Thanks
Jay McIntyre, CFSP
VFDA First Vice President
VFDA Legislative Committee Chair
Shenandoah Valley FDA Secretary
Licensed Funeral Director
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January 1, 2020

Happy New Year Members!! I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas and a very enjoyable New Year’s celebration.

We finally made it to the full participation part of EDRS! Raise your hand if all the doctors in your area have signed up… I’ll wait! You of course know I’m kidding, knowing that we continue to face resistance by some. Less resistance than in days gone by, but still meeting some in isolated practices.

As I mentioned in my last letter, and even the ones before that, now is the time we need to start using all the tools at our disposal. The VFDA and this profession as a whole have been nice for far too long. And to quote Bill Engvall “nice stopped at midnight!!” Literally and figuratively. It’s time for funeral directors to start recommending that the families we serve file a complaint of unprofessional conduct against a doctor who won’t participate in the EDRS. It is time for funeral directors to start calling the Board of Medicine office and complaining to them as well. I have left a message with the Board of Medicine, who chose not to call me back. The same goes for the Executive Director of the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

My suggestion to you as a course of action would be this. Search for the doctor’s name in the EDRS. If you cannot find their name in the listing, call the office and ask for the office manager. Tell them that the doctor must be enrolled and participating in the system as of January 1, 2020. If they are willing and not resistant to getting signed up, offer your help, or call the VFDA and we can help them as well. Keep in mind, that we as an association cannot field all calls and get everyone signed up, so please help the doctors if you can. If they resist, do not print them a paper death certificate copy, as it will not be accepted by the Health Department. The ONLY paper death certificate copies allowed after the first of the year, will be the ones with dates of death prior to January 1.

Again, we have cooperated nicely for a long enough time. You, the funeral director have been responsible for much of the leg work of the system. But, we can all count our blessings that those days are quickly drawing to a close. Let’s finish strong and eagerly anticipate when all this headache is just a thing of the past! Happy New Year!!!

Thanks,

Jay McIntyre, CFSP
VFDA First Vice President
VFDA Legislative Committee Chair
Shenandoah Valley FDA Secretary
Licensed Funeral Director
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