ELECTRONIC DEATH REGISTRATION SYSTEM The Pennsylvania Department of Health has been fielding the Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) to Dauphin, Cumberland, and York Counties. York County will go live on February 26, 2016. Pinnacle Health, Harrisburg, and the Community General Osteopathic Hospitals have trained a significant portion of their medical staff and physicians to use EDRS and we believe that the Hershey Medical Center will be in by April 2017. In Cumberland County, the Holy Spirit Hospital has also trained a significant number of their staff and should be using EDRS by the go live date of January 29, 2016. The Local Registrars and the Coroners/Medical Examiners for both Dauphin and Cumberland Counties have been trained, and the York Coroner's Office will be in by February 26, 2016 along with the York County Local Registrars. What does this mean for you, the funeral director:
1. If you service a decedent who passed away within one of these hospitals or coroners' offices, you should confirm with the organization's point of contact if the decedent's medical certifier is using EDRS. If so, you can use EDRS as normal.
2. If the medical certifier cannot use EDRS yet, then we would ask that you create the case in EDRS and complete your portion of the case in EDRS and then drop to paper as you normally do. There is still a benefit to complete and electronically sign your portion in EDRS – by doing so you can send notification of the death to the Social Security Administration automatically by use the Social Security Administration –Online Verification System feature in EDRS – that's one less form you have to complete.
In light of the budget constraints, The Pennsylvania Department of Health is updating the EDRS Fielding Plan and should be publishing the plan within the next 60 days. If you are a Funeral Home in Dauphin, Cumberland, or York Counties and you have not signed up for training, please do so. You can direct your questions to the EDRS Help Desk at RA-DHDeathSupport@pa.gov. Also, to clarify the continuing education credits – for Funeral Directors – upon completion of the training, the Department of Health will issue you a certificate of completion for three CE credits. Also, funeral directors from Cumberland, Dauphin, and York Counties, please make sure you sign up and complete the training as soon as possible.
CHANGES TO PRESIDENTIAL MEMORIAL CERTIFICATE PROGRAM FOR VETERANS The VA National Cemetery Administration(NCA) recently announced a change to the law that limits how a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) can be requested and what information is required when a request is made. All PMC applications must be completed on the June 2013 or August 2014 versions of the VA Form 40-0247. Also, the applicant must certify to the best of their knowledge that the deceased has never been convicted of a sexual offense that included a minimum sentence of life imprisonment or committed a Capital Crime. A copy of the correct application can be found at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/va40-0247.pdf.
MONTHLY SUGGESTED BOOK BY JESSICA SCHAUFERT
GRIEF AND TERMINAL ILLNESS Grieving for a family member with a terminal illness presents challenges that don't necessarily come with other forms of grief. For example, grieving may very well start before the family member passes away. Two thirds of diagnosed terminally ill patients have a survival rate of five years, making this an extended period of grief which occurs in several stages. Stage 1 is crisis. Stage 2 is unity. Stage 3 is upheaval or disturbance amongst the family. This leads into Stage 4, which is resolution. This process of grief can present an opportunity for the family to heal old wounds and strive towards growth and renewal. With the death of a loved one, Stage 5 begins, which is renewal. This book provides support and understanding, and would be a good reference for families dealing with terminal illness.
Saying Goodbye: A Guide to Coping with a Loved One's Terminal Illness by Barbara Okun http://www.amazon.com/Saying-Goodbye-Coping-Terminal-Illness/dp/0425245187
2016 PA BURIAL RESERVE LIMITS BY COUNTY AVAILABLE PFDA members can find the 2016 Burial Reserve Limits by County on the PFDA website. This information can be accessed at http://www.pfda.org/burial-reserve-limits/.
EXCESS FUNDS IN A BURIAL RESERVE EXCESS FUNDS IN A BURIAL RESERVE – We just received the following information from Milton Sellers (noted below) in follow-up to what was previously shared.
When a funeral home has excess funds in a burial fund for someone that has no estate, the funeral home must review the burial reserve agreement to determine if there was a named beneficiary for any excess funds (not the funeral costs). If there is a named beneficiary for the excess funds, the funds can be returned to that person and are not subject to estate recovery. Any time there is no named beneficiary then the funds become part of the estate and as such are subject to Estate Recovery.
When there is no named beneficiary (or if the named beneficiary is also deceased), the excess funds can be sent to the deceased's representative who should be advised that by receiving the funds, they are obligated to contact the Estate Recovery program in writing at P.O. Box 8486, Harrisburg, PA 17105. Alternatively, they can contact DHS Estate Recovery program representative Milton Sellers at 717-772-6254 or email@example.com.
If there is no representative for the decedent's estate, the funeral home should check with estate recovery to see if the funds can be accepted. The reason for this is that even though the individual was receiving Medicaid, it may have been for a short period of time where not all of the excess funds would be accepted.
VA NOW NEEDS A COPY OF DEATH CERTIFICATES FOR ALL VETERANS VA's are now required to get a copy of a death certificate for any veteran in order to process benefits and/or close out the veteran's records. Funeral Directors should make families aware of this when they are working on arrangements for a veteran, so the families know to get an extra copy of the death certificate for the VA.
IS YOUR FUNERAL HOME READY?
PFDA's Mid-Winter Management Conference
February 16-18, 2016
REGISTER TODAY at pfda.org or call 800-692-6068
ANNUAL CONVENTION & EXPO will be June 12-15, 2016 at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg/Hershey, Grantville, PA. Keynote speakers will be Jeffery Beatty, who will be speaking on Mass Destruction and Security Considerations for Funeral Directors; Matt Smith, who will speak about Complete Restoration of a Skull Fracture and Creating a Natural Expression though Airbrush Cosmetics; Timothy Solobay, who will talk about the steps it takes to change the Funeral Law; and Mary Ann Havalchak, who will speak about recognizing and reporting Child Abuse.
FALL ANNUAL DISTRICT MEETINGS will be September 12-15 and September 19-22, 2016 throughout the state. The locations and dates are as follows: Dubois, September 12; Erie, September 13; Pittsburgh, September 14; Altoona, September 15; Philadelphia, September 19; Wilkes Barre, September 20; Bethlehem, September 21; and Harrisburg, September 22.
PFDA is actively monitoring and in support of SB 874, which is currently in the PA House Consumer Affairs Committee. We hope it will be voted favorably out of committee soon.
PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT PFDA HAS YOUR CURRENT EMAIL ADDRESS ON FILE to ensure that we can get information to you in a timely manner that could affect your business operation. Also, make sure that when your email address changes to update the PFDA, so we can continue to keep you informed of important business-related matters. Your email address will be used for official association business only and is never sold to third parties. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name in the subject line and include the name of your funeral home and your current email address in the message.
2016 STANDARD MILEAGE RATE HAS DECREASED As of January 1, 2016 the IRS dropped the standard mileage rate from 57.5 cents to 54 cents per mile.
EMAIL SCAM ALERT Funeral homes beware! There is an email circulating that is being sent directly to funeral homes, and the email claims that the person sending the email is at sea because they are a captain of a fishing vessel. The person also claims a loved one died in an automobile accident in London and the body is at a funeral home in London, but they would like to use your funeral home for arrangements. The sender wants you to contact the funeral home in London to make all of the arrangements. Do not reply to this email.
Robert Joseph Monahan, Sr., 91, of Gettysburg, died on December 23, 2015. He is the former owner of Monahan Funeral Homes in Gettysburg and Fairfield. He is survived by his sons William P. and Thomas M. both licensed funeral directors working in the family business.
Carolyn I. "Lynn" Franson, 64, of Clearfield, died on January 8, 2016 at Mountain Laurel Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Clearfield. She is survived by her son David E. Franson, II, a licensed funeral director, who is the Vice President and Supervisor at the Chester C. Chidboy Funeral Home, Clearfield.
William Taljan, 87, of Harrisburg, died on January 10, 2016 at Ecumenical Retirement Community, Harrisburg. He is survived by his son James W., a licensed funeral director, who is the Supervisor at Fackler-Wiedeman Funeral Home, Harrisburg.
PFDA OFFICE CLOSING The association office will be closed on Monday, February 15, 2016 for the observance of President's Day. The office will reopen on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.