Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Special Webinar Series on Medicaid Compliance

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Medicaid Compliance...But Were Afraid to Ask
[Special Lunch & Learn Webinar Series] 
Various Dates - April through June 2014
Free to NYCON Members; $75 for Nonmembers
Register Today
Medicaid Compliance... Medicaid Compliance Plans ... Medicaid Self Auditing...Medicaid Self-Disclosures... Medicaid Audits ... Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse...Office of the Medicaid Inspector General ... OMIG...If these words and phrases are part of a typical day at your nonprofit, we have designed the perfect series of webinars for you. In four 90-minute sessions we will be covering:
  1. Medicaid Compliance 101 & the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG)
  2. Knowing Thy (Compliant) Self: How to Conduct a Medicaid Self Audit
  3. Self-Disclosure is Not a Four Letter Word!: Protocols & Procedures of Medicaid Self Disclosure
  4. Preparing For, and Surviving, an OMIG Medicaid Audit
Participants will hear directly from experts in the field (including David R. Ross, former Acting Medicaid Inspector General for the State of New York, and David Rottkamp, CPA and leader of Grassi & Co.'s not-for-profit practice area) and get the practical information they need to provide appropriate oversight and management of Medicaid-funded programs, understand the role of the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, and much more. See detailed session descriptions below.

April 9th, 2014     11:00am to 12:30pm
Medicaid Compliance 101 and the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG)
Changes to the oversight of the Medicaid program led to the creation of the OMIG. Learn about the OMIG's powers and duties, as well as its requirements for compliance plans and annual compliance certification for certain types of providers. Also learn about the importance of compliance and other compliance-related issues. Join our experts to hear about reducing Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse before the Medicaid program is billed, and how to have systems that will identify when errors are made so that corrections can be initiated and made by providers. Provider misconduct, also known as "unacceptable practices," will be illustrated along with the various sanctions available to the OMIG, including exclusion from the Medicaid program and enrollment termination. A question and answer period will be provided.

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  

May 15th, 2014     11:00am to 12:30pm
Know Thy (Compliant) Self: How to Conduct
a Medicaid Self Audit
Part of any provider's compliance program is their compliance plan, and the key part of any compliance plan is the concept of risk assessment and self auditing. This means identifying where errors are most likely to be made, and then reviewing your Medicaid claims and documentation for compliance with applicable requirements. Hypotheticals for risk assessment and self audit will be discussed. As participants will hear, self auditing can be the best preventative medicine. A question and answer period will be provided.

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  

June 5th, 2014    11:00am to 12:30pm
Self-Disclosure is Not a Four Letter Word!
Protocols & Procedures of Medicaid Self Disclosure
Under Obamacare, providers are required to report, repay and explain all Medicaid overpayments received. Learn what "overpayments" are, the sixty day rule, and the federal False Claims Act, which imposes potentially severe civil liability on providers for failing to self-report, repay and explain overpayments received. Learn how to handle routine overpayment situations and also when to seek advice on non-routine matters. A question and answer period will be provided.

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  

June 19th, 2014    11:00am to 12:30pm
Preparing for and Surviving an OMIG Medicaid Audit
This workshop will provide you with an overview of how an OMIG Medicaid audit is conducted and how the audit process works. Learn how to prepare for the audit, how to interact with the auditors when they arrive, and when to seek counsel. Potential defenses to audit findings will also be briefly covered. A question and answer period will be provided. 

Webinars are free for NYCON Members
Non-Members $75 per session or $275 for all four. 
*If you would like to attend all four, please choose "Series Ticket" type. You will be automatically registered for each session through June. All webinars are from 11am to 12:30pm  


Nonprofit Advocacy Matters | March 10, 2014

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Budget Season Opens in Earnest
President Obama kicked off the official annual budget and spending season with the release of his fiscal year 2015 budget proposals and House and Senate committees are now getting busy attending to spending priorities. The President’s budget, released on March 4, mostly follows the spending limits that Congress approved in December. It once again calls for limiting the value of itemized deductions (including the charitable deduction) for higher-income taxpayers. It also includes increased spending on some programs that are of interest to nonprofits. Congress is not expected to act on the President's budget blueprint, but it could factor into appropriation discussions. The budget deal reached in December answered the question of how much the federal government will spend in FY 2015, an issue that has frustrated recent appropriations decisions. With that question resolved, the spending committees are pursuing “regular order,” the process of picking which programs to fund and by how much. While optimistic by past experience, the chairs of the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate are pushing their colleagues to move the 12 spending bills out of committee by June and approved by either chamber of Congress by early August.

Tax Reform Draft Made Public
Like the President’s FY2015 budget blueprint (see above article), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a draft tax reform plan that is full of interesting details and ideas, but by all accounts has no chance of becoming law this year. The proposal calls for lowering top tax rates for individuals and corporations and modifying or eliminating thousands of existing tax provisions. It proposes changes to standard and itemized deductions that Camp projects will reduce itemizing to only five percent of taxpayers. It would also levy an excise tax on some nonprofit salaries that exceed $1 million, impose pay-out requirements for Donor Advised Funds, alter how unrelated business income taxes are calculated, and eliminate most forms of supporting organizations. Go to the National Council of Nonprofits website to see our statement and asummary of the Camp tax reform proposal.

Proposal to Regulate Social Welfare Nonprofits Draws Record Response
A record-setting 143,730 respondents submitted comments to the Internal Revenue Service on proposed regulations relating to political activities of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. By most analyses, the comments are predominantly negative, whether submitted by conservatively or progressively leaning individuals and organizations. The draft proposals seek to define the types of political activities that 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations can engage in without running the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. They do not ban any such activities, provide a spending limit, or remove donor confidentiality for partisan spending that would otherwise be made public by entities organized under different sections of the Tax Code. Comments submitted by the National Council of Nonprofits focus on the unintended and harmful impact that the proposed regulations would have on the legitimate and essential nonpartisan advocacy activities of 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits such as nonprofit lobbying, work on ballot measures (initiatives, referenda, and bond measures), and nonpartisan election-related activities such as voter guides, candidate forums, and voter registration activities.

Cities Seek to Tax Employers, Employees
Across the country, cities are looking to expand their revenues beyond property tax receipts by imposing new taxes and fees on individuals and businesses, including nonprofits. Cities ranging from New York City to Johnstown, Pennsylvania reportedly are considering implementing commuter taxes. The Adjustment Planto address the debts of bankrupt Detroit confides that the “City is considering the enactment of a local ordinance that would require employers to withhold City income taxes of reverse commuters.” Washington, DC, which is prohibited by Congress from levying a commuter tax, is considering a recommendation from a recent Tax Revision Commission to impose a “local service fee” on non-governmental employers, including nonprofits, of $100 per employee. The Commission reportedly opted for the fee approach as a better alternative to seeking payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) from nonprofits.

Taxes, Fees, PILOTs
  • Fees: The Honolulu City Council voted to reject a proposed ordinance to extend a trash collection fee to charitable nonprofits. Lisa Maruyama, president of theHawai`i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, voiced the concerns of the nonprofit community: "It's a slippery slope of fees that actually contribute to nonprofit overhead and increased business costs. This type of overhead expense is very hard to recoup in fundraising initiatives."
  • PILOTs: The Speaker of the Connecticut House is threatening to turn up the pressure on nonprofit hospitals and universities to provide more money to their local governments. He is describing a plan to alter the State’s revenue sharing plan to reduce payments that go to communities to cover revenues lost from property tax exemptions by those institutions. Although no legislation has yet been introduced, the Speaker claims to have bi-partisan support for a proposal that could require universities and hospitals to pay property taxes and then submit a request to the State for reimbursement for all or some of the amount.
  • PILOTs: Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, has effectively agreed to all of the town’s terms – payment of $200,000 annually to cover the costs of emergency police and fire services it receives – and the Town Council members apparently are having difficulty taking “yes” for an answer. Bryant and Smithfield have been locked in heated negotiations for years, culminating in a controversial law enacted last year by the General Assembly empowering the town to charge fees if Bryant doesn’t capitulate.
Government-Nonprofit Contracting Update
Maryland Nonprofits Excluded from Applying for Contracts
Smaller nonprofits that historically have performed services on behalf of governments may be excluded from competing for state contracts if small-business legislation is enacted. The measure would mandate that contracts valued between $15,000 and $100,000 must be set aside in a Small Business Reserve (SBR) by all state agencies and only awarded to those certified as small businesses. Nonprofits would not be eligible for the preferential treatment because they are not independently owned and operated. We would like to hear from any other states that have – or that have rejected – similar programs that prevent nonprofits from competing for state contracts to serve their local communities.

Legislatures Continue to Tweak Solicitation Regulation
State legislatures continue to tweak their solicitation laws in an effort to increase accountability, and occasionally, to reduce burdens on nonprofits. A bill pushed by the Maine Attorney General would eliminate registration and disclosure requirementsfor charitable nonprofits and professional fundraising counsel, leaving only professional third-party solicitors still required to register and report. Maryland appears likely to adopt a rewrite of the state’s solicitation registration law to increase the Attorney General/Secretary of State’s oversight of nonprofits and raise certain fees for charities. Maryland Nonprofits, the State Association in Maryland, supports the bill on the grounds that it would “provide resources and authority to address glaring shortcomings in the state’s ability to protect charitable donors from fraud, effectively monitor compliance with state rules on charitable solicitations, and when necessary intervene to prevent the misuse of charitable assets.” In Oregon, both the House and Senate have passed the bill authorizing the Attorney General to impose increased penalties, including fees, on nonprofits that fail to comply with reporting and other regulatory requirements. The measure, which was expressly amended to restrict the creation of additional and burdensome reporting requirements, now goes to the Governor for his signature. See the recent Nonprofit Advocacy Matters for more background on these and other proposals.

Additional State and Local Issues

Here’s Why
We’ve all heard the declaration: Your nonprofit can/should/must engage in advocacy! The typical reasons given are that you serve a population that doesn’t have a voice or the public needs your good sense. Rarely does the speaker of the opening declaration explain “why” in terms that matter to the mission and day-to-day responsibilities of the busy nonprofit professional. Until now.

Dennis McMillian, President of the Foraker Group, opened his March message to members of the state association of nonprofits in Alaska with a message worth sharing. In The Case to Engage in Public Policy, Dennis used facts to make his point clear for residents of his state: “Nationally 31% of charitable nonprofit revenue comes from government grants. Alaska gets twice that much! That fact alone should make it clear that public policy is not just a good thing to do, many organizations must engage in it to survive.”

He went on to explain: “Even nonprofits that depend on earned revenue or charitable giving are not immune to today's policy challenges. Never have stakes been so high. Individually and collectively we must act – we must do a better job of advocating for ourselves.”

And then there is this universal truth that all nonprofits should acknowledge: “Some elected officials don't understand why nonprofits are important, others lack respect for what we do. For example, recently some of our legislators were heard making statements that nonprofits are "not effective,” that "salaries are too high,” we "waste money,” we "don't know how to run our businesses,” and that we need to be "taught" to do more for less. Unfortunately, these officials don't know what they don't know. If we don't speak for ourselves, they may assume their perceptions are true.”

In other words – for Alaskans and nonprofits throughout the United States – advocating on behalf of your nonprofit is an essential tool for advancing mission.

Federal Issues
  • Budget and Spending
  • Tax Reform Draft
  • IRS Proposed Regulations
State Issues
  • Local Taxes: DC, MI, NY, PA
  • Taxes, Fees, PILOTs: CT, HI, RI
  • Government-Nonprofit Contracting: MD
  • Solicitation Laws: ME, MD, OR
  • Hunger Aid: CT, NY, PA
  • Nonprofit Independence: CT
  • Telemarketing: NY
  • Contracting Solutions: FL
Advocacy in Action
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Worth Reading
Foundations Can Rewrite History by Focusing on the States, Tim Delaney, Nonprofit Quarterly, March 5, 2014, demonstrating that while much attention is focused on federal proposals in Washington, DC that often are dead on arrival, “the real action is in the states” when it comes to legislating: last year Congress passed fewer than 80 laws, while state legislatures adopted 40,000.

Worth Quoting
Respect from Washington
“Representing 10 percent of the nation’s adult workforce and contributing more than $800 billion to US GDP, nonprofits also serve as an economic engine for job creation in communities across America.”
Strengthening and Supporting the Social Sector to Grow the Middle Class, White House Budget Fact Sheet accompanying the President’s FY 2015 Budget, March 4, 2014.

Worth Quoting
"Nonprofit leaders are the best business people in the state. They are able to deliver world-class services, balance the books, and run a marketing campaign -- usually all on a shoe-string budget."
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaking to an audience of 200+ nonprofits at Washington Nonprofits' Legislative Reception, February 12, 2014.

Worth Studying
25 Maps and Charts That Explain America Today,Washington Post, February 24, 2015, offering a fascinating pictorial collection of demographic information ranging from the economic and digital divides to tax and social policies across the country.

Nonprofit Events

Help Us Tell the Nonprofit Story
The Advocacy in Actionsegment of this newsletter is dedicating to highlighting the many innovative and effective ways that charitable nonprofits advance their missions through advocacy. Nominate a nonprofitfor inclusion in a future newsletter.

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© Copyright 2014 National Council of Nonprofits. All rights reserved 
1200 New York Avenue, NW | Suite 700 | Washington, DC 20005 | www.councilofnonprofits.org

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters | February 24, 2014

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Big News Coming on Taxes and Spending; Little Traction Expected
Within the next two weeks, the public will learn the details of two major proposals that, if enacted, would significantly alter federal tax and spending policies. Neither, however, is expected to do more than serve as discussion drafts for the 2014 elections. First up, perhaps as soon as this week, is a draft bill by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) that is expected to reduce corporate and individual tax rates and eliminate numerous special-interest provisions. It is unclear what changes will be proposed to provisions that affect charitable nonprofits. Less than a week later, President Obama is expected to release his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. Early reports suggest that he will move away from past austerity budgets by calling for $56 billion in new spending on domestic and defense priorities. 

While largely symbolic – neither package is expected to be enacted as written this year – the details could well appear in legislatures across the country. For example, the President’s proposal to cap itemized deductions, first raised in his 2009 budget proposal, was enacted in modified form in Hawai`i in 2011 (where it was reversed in 2013 due to the harmful consequences) and considered in several other states in 2013. Likewise, the call to convert tax deductions into tax credits – a proposal seen in several federal tax-reform packages – was seriously considered before being rejected in Minnesota last year.

Proposal to Regulate Social Welfare Nonprofits Under Fire
Partisans and nonpartisan nonprofits alike are expressing the common view that proposed regulations from the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service should be withdrawn. To date, a record of nearly 70,000 comments have been filed on the proposed rules to define what should be considered “candidate-related political activity” by 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. Many of those comments express concern about the adverse effect on partisan activities of conservative or progressive organizations. The House is expected, this week, to take up a bill to delay consideration of the proposed regulations until after the November elections. Several charitable nonprofit, such as Nonprofit VOTE, the Colorado Nonprofit Association, and the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits have filed comments challenging the draft as overly broad and likely to infringe on the legitimate advocacy and civic engagement work of 501(c)(3) organizations. The National Council of Nonprofits will be submitting comments in the coming days and all interested parties are encouraged to file public comments; the deadline is Thursday, February 27. Read recent articles in Nonprofit Advocacy Matters (January 27, 2014December 16, 2013, andDecember 2, 2013) for background information. 

First Answers Provided to OMB Guidance Questions
The December release of new Grants Guidance by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has generated enthusiastic interest by charitable nonprofits that perform work on behalf of governments, as well as hundreds of questions from non-federal entities trying to understand the details and scope of the once-in-a-generation overhaul of federal grants policies. In response, the Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR), which is working with OMB to implement the Guidance, has published its first set of 24 answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), covering such topics as when the new rules go into effect and what “profit” means in the context of charitable nonprofits. Federal officials have not yet addressed a number of questions regarding the mandate that pass-through entities (typically state and local governments) pay the indirect costs of nonprofits. The initial FAQs are the first of several expected sets over the next few months. The COFAR is encouraging individuals and organizations to submit additional questions to help it identify where additional clarification is needed. The National Council of Nonprofits also asks nonprofits with governments contracts or grants to share their questions so that we can follow up and work to ensure that the promise of the new OMB Guidance is achieved through appropriate government actions and interpretations. Please give us your questions and feedback.

Taxes, Fees, PILOTs
  • Property Taxes: Legislation in Kansas seeks to remove property tax exemptions from nonprofit human service providers that receive 40 percent or more of their revenues from the sale of membership or program services that would otherwise incur a sales tax if sold by a for-profit organization. For-profit fitness centers reportedly are targeting YMCAs that sell memberships for their athletic programs in addition to providing community benefits particularly to low-income children and families. Other nonprofits, including Goodwill Industries of Kansas, are expressing concern that the legislation could adversely affect their missions as well.
  • Fees: The Honolulu City Council is considering anordinance to extend trash pickup fees and cart usage fees to nonprofits that own real property. The proposal issupported by the local newspaper
Putting “Voluntary” into Volunteerism
Reversing a trend nonprofits have been seeing in state legislatures, a bill in Washington State treats volunteering with charitable nonprofits as a positive incentive rather than a punishment. The legislation would give unemployed individuals theoption of performing volunteer services in lieu of previously mandated job-search requirements. Elsewhere, legislators have sought to impose community service requirements performed at nonprofits as a condition of receiving mandatory or previously earned public benefits. Typically such bills are promoted without regard to the potential avalanche of people who might descend on well-known “name-brand” charities and the sudden liability exposure the bills could impose on nonprofits. Bills to create the community service mandate, known as “mandatory volunteerism,” have been introduced most recently in Alabama and Michigan.

Nonprofit Compensation Flags Agenda Items
Scrutiny of allegedly high compensation levels paid by some nonprofit organizations can lend support for others to advance their agendas against charitable nonprofits. The St. Louis County Missouri Assessor recently announced that he has launched a review of tax-exempt organizations to determine whether they continue to qualify for property tax exemptions. The Assessor, an elected position, was responding to a series of articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch questioning the charitable care provided by two nonprofit senior living facilities that pay their CEOs in excess of $1 million each and whether they deserve to remain exempt from paying over $3 million in property taxes annually. In Oregon, a labor union is collecting signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would cap the salaries of nonprofit hospital executives at no more than 15 times that of the lowest-paid workers. Hospital officials assert that the ballot measure is designed to give unions leverage to organize and negotiate at the nonprofit hospitals.

Big Day Advocacy
There’s every day advocacy to which most of us aspire, and then there is Big Day Advocacy like CommonGood Vermont choreographed in the Green Mountain State earlier this month. The Vermont Nonprofit Legislative Day, conducted this year on February 6, presented a lineup of events that left no doubt that charitable nonprofits have the ear of legislators.

The day began with a welcome from the Speaker of the House, followed by a panel of luminaries providing an overview of legislative issues facing the nonprofit sector, how nonprofits can effectively communicate their impact, and advocate for their issues. 

In an interesting twist, the House of Representatives opened its session with inspirational words from a nonprofit leader (seeWorth Watching, above) and a Vermont Nonprofit Proclamation, during which the speaker estimated that half of the members of the House have served their communities through local nonprofits, whether as employees, board members, or volunteers.

The day also included not just lobbying for the nonprofit policy agenda but also testimony before a Senate Committee on the top legislative priority for the year, a bill to require results-based accountability by government. Five nonprofit leaders, includingLauren-Glenn Davitian of CommonGood Vermont, provided committee members with hands-on analyses of what better data collection and reporting will mean for government efficiency and the work of charitable nonprofits.

© Copyright 2014 National Council of Nonprofits. All rights reserved 
1200 New York Avenue, NW | Suite 700 | Washington, DC 20005 | www.councilofnonprofits.org