Written by Steve Palmer from the 2017 NFDA International Convention and Expo in Boston, MA
AT LARGE SPECIAL ELECTION: An election to fill the one year term of Butch Mulhearn, who resigned his position, was held. Candidates were Alec Anderson of Utah, Manuel de Jesus Osorio of Texas, David McComb of Indiana and John W. Wening of Wisconsin. John Wenig won. He lost his father when young and was impressed with the funeral director. In 1982, he lost a child. He was a teacher whose wife talked him into going into the funeral business and he found his career and passion.
LEGAL REPORT- Scott Gilligan:
White Collar Exemption: A federal court in Texas ruled that the Department of Labor never had the authority to set the minimum wage of $47,476 for professional salary. The Trump administration didn’t agree with the court but did disagree with Obama’s decision in the first place. Back and forth led to the decision that the Obama administrations white collar regulation is now officially dead. The $23,600 is being considered to be adjusted to inflation, which would currently make it only $29,101.
Funeral Rule Review: The five person FTC board is down to two members and one member’s term has already expired. Nothing can happen without at least three vote majority. Trump is being very slow to appoint, and the Chairman is still an interim Chairperson. The review is held off to at least 2018.
Alkaline Hydrolysis: California has legalized AH but it will not take effect until July 1, 2020. Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Minnesota, Oregon and Wyoming.
Heritage Cremation Providers: Eight states have filed complaints against this website, non licensed, low cost provider. Their current place of business is unknown since they were chased out of Florida and Colorado. NFDA is discussing Heritage/Legacy with the FTC.
Preneed Consumer Protection: Massachusetts and Ohio have now revised laws so that funeral homes cannot accept preneed funds, they payment must be made to the insurance company or master trust or other acceptable institution hold pre-need funds. Kansas already has a similar regulation.
ADVOCACY – Leslie Whitter:
Health Plans: The subject of allowing smaller groups to purchase health plans has come up after quite a few years. Leslie Whitter is looking for input as to whether members want this pursued .
Opioids: Obama administration in 2016 stripped DEA of enforcement powers against drug companies for releasing prescription drugs out of the usual channels. Trump administration has declared opioid abuse a public health crisis. No new regulations as we have no DHHS secretary presently.
Brave Act 2017: Vets should not be penalized for where they die. Benefits should be the same whether VA hospital or at home.
HR1212 and SB1596. Bipartisan bills. LATTS: Tissue Safety Act of 2017 (Rep. Gosar’s bill). Licensing tissue banks, requirements and shipping requirements and prohibiting the sale of human tissue are part of this. It would allow tissue banks to recover fees for tissue removal. Question was asked about the tax bill which was too unsettled at the time, but will be watched.
INTERNATIONAL REORT: 49 countries, 1868 locations internationally. 183% increase since 2014. $417,634 received from international members.
CREMATION CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: Is now international. 84 Brazilians certified, 85 Philippinos certified.
NFDA PROGRAMS: Arranger training; NFDA Business Conference: Insight Celebrant Training (sell out at convention); Cremation Conference; FAMIC surveys. NEW: Embalming seminars at PIMS (Pittsburg Institute of Mortuary Science).
NFDA STATE AFFILIATION AGREEMENT: Will be sent out to be completed by the end of the year. NFDA will send out the new charter when agreement is received.
EDRS (Electronic Death Registration System) Study Group: NFDA PP Rob Moore, Chmn: Eric Hughes and Katherine Lewis of the CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare spoke. They unveiled a tested program called “Nightingale which could be a model for all states EDRS. Their goal is to take in all concerns and problems and also to tie this program in with current funeral program software. (One entry rather than two). Goal is to have all states in some electronic program. We need national vital statistics to be current. Present systems slow this response. NEXTGEN is their goal that will integrate reports, tracking and expedite registration. Six states currently do not have an EDRS.
POLICY BOARD SELF ASSESSMENT: In short, PB representatives feel that the most important areas of focus are to identify, deliberate and recommend action on funeral service issues and to serve as the primary information conduit between NFDA and state associations. Interesting stats: Value of Policy Board Work: Members felt 98% that their work was important but 79.2 felt their state associations felt that way. Policy board members attended a high of 66.7% of their meetings and 4.2% attended no meetings.
I have blessed and privileged to serve on the NFDA Policy Board representing our state for the last eight years. Thank you for this opportunity to do so much and experience so much. I know Hillary Adair will feel the same after her term of service.
~ Steve Palmer