In Pennsylvania, Fundraising Season Abounds

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)

Now that the PA House and Senate appropriations hearings have finished, the fundraising season for candidates has begun.  First, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I had the opportunity to thank Representative Bill Adolph for being our champion.  During the event, we had the opportunity to see Senator Scott Wagner, who is also running for Governor, and Congressmen Pat Meehan.  Next, I had the opportunity to speak with the new House Appropriations Chair Representative Stan Saylor.  We discussed the need for higher reimbursement rates if the state approves a minimum wage increase.  The events were rounded out by a visit with Senator Judy Schwank the Health and Human Services Minority Chair, Representative Donna Bullock, Aging and Youth Chair Senator Michele Brooks, and Representative Madeline Dean.

Supporting our Political Action Committees is an important part of the Government Affairs Office’s recipe for success.  Fundraisers provide additional opportunities to get to know legislators who make decisions about home health care.  It is also a way to ensure those that support home care get into and stay in office.

Expanding Our Reach Through A NC Home Visit

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

When freshman NC Representative Andy Dulin expressed an interest in home health care, Charlotte Personal Care (CPC) Hearts for Home Care Ambassador and Client Service Manager Shayla Jemmott, and Clinical Manager Deborah Batts jumped into action. They hosted a home visit with CJ, a 24-year old young man with cerebral palsy, and his family. CJ’s mom explained how the three hours per day of certified nursing assistant services allows her to work and gives them a sense of peace knowing CJ is happy and healthy. Rep. Dulin asked great questions and was surprised to learn that the aide rate, at $13.88, is only $0.44 cents higher than back in 2001. He indicated he is willing to help us garner support for the increase.

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Representative Dulin with CJ

NJ Client Advocacy Program Moves Forward

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, NJ Client and Family Advocacy(GAO)

Government Affairs Office Director Louise Lindenmeier and I have visited with over 28 offices so far this year, to talk about client and family advocacy and Hearts for Home Care.  Response from the service offices has been overwhelmingly positive and the stories shared by the offices inspire me more every day.   BAYADA employees have begun to identify clients who have an interest in advocacy and are reaching out to connect them to our new Client and Family Advocacy program.  We are using this client base to help advocate to our legislators and share their stories through different media and settings.

BAYADA Government Affairs Office Takes Ambassadors to Trenton, NJ

Submitted by Louise Lindenmeier, Director, NJ Government Affairs (GAO)

Advocacy with lawmakers is so important for our clients and families.  On March 22, Ambassador of the Year, Hudson County (HUD) Client Service Manager Ida Rodriquez, Perth Amboy (PER) Client Service Manager Julia Nelson, and Client Advocacy Manager Tara Montague accompanied me in Trenton where we met Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak and Senior Advisor to the Speaker Wayne Zitt. We discussed home health care and the need for higher reimbursement in order to pay higher wages for home health aides. As a result of the meeting, Assemblyman Karabinchak will co-sponsor A320 which sets a floor in managed care at the state’s fee for service rate. Senior Advisor Zitt will encourage the bill to be voted upon by the General Assembly. Both Ambassadors enjoyed the day in Trenton as they met many other legislators throughout the statehouse.

A Day in the Life of a Massachusetts Mom/Advocate

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On February 27, several BAYADA employees, home health care family members and others working toward getting a patient bill of rights passed, gathered at the state house in Boston to meet with legislators.  Lisa B. was en-route with her son, an adult home care client in his early 30s, and his son’s nurse.  Their goal for the day was to speak with different elected officials about the need for a rate increase for continuous skilled nursing services and to advocate for a patient bill of rights that is making its way through the legislative system toward becoming a law.  Just four miles from the state house, Lisa and the nurse saw that her son’s medical condition had changed and they quickly pulled their van over near the outskirts of a public park to help him.  He was struggling to breath due to a mucous plug.  In addition to this, he had lost control of his bowels.  As they pulled off the road, it happened to be near where an undercover police officer was working.  Startled by their presence, the officer approached them.  It took a bit, but Lisa and the nurse were able to clear the plug and get him back to a normal status.  They also changed his clothing and got everything back to normal.  The police officer was so motivated to help the family that he provided them with a police escort to the state house.  As a result of their dedication to the greater cause of helping people with special medical needs, they were still able to meet with senators and representatives and discuss the importance of home care nursing and the patient bill of rights from the perspective of the family.

Mayor Vetoes Higher Minimum Wage in Baltimore City, MD

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

The Baltimore City Council voted last Monday to increase the minimum wage in steps to $15 by 2022.  The newly-elected Mayor of Baltimore, former state Senator Catherine Pugh, supported an increased minimum wage during her campaign.  In a surprise change of heart on Friday, March 24, she vetoed the bill citing an unanticipated budget shortfall, schools budget deficit and new costs for police oversight since she took office.  The increase would have cost the city an additional $116 million in wages over the next four years.  City councilmembers do not have the votes to override Pugh’s veto.

Statewide Mandate For Paid Sick Leave Continues To Be Negotiated in Maryland

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, MD Government Affairs (GAO)

Several years in the making, a bill that would require employers offer paid sick leave continues to be negotiated within the state legislature.  The House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill, carving out certain types of employees and offering different amounts of sick time per year.  Representatives and Senators now must negotiate a version that can be passed identically through both chambers before any regulation will be put in place.  Many business and industry groups, including the Maryland-National Capital Homecare Association, have advocated against this legislation.

Delaware State Medicaid Budget Shielded From Cuts

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, DE Government Affairs (GAO)

Governor John Carney introduced his budget, addressing the $385 million budget shortfall the state faces this year.  He proposed to make up half of the amount through new tax revenue and the other half by cutting spending.  Many state programs are facing cuts, the state is freezing hiring, some (non-health) facilities will be shut down.  In light of all of that, it is remarkable to be able to say that the governor included $11.8 million additional dollars to Medicaid to ensure that the program continues to be fully-funded.

Ali Knott Named National Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year

Submitted by Dave Totaro, Chief Government Affairs Officer (GAO)

Delaware Pediatric North (DPN) Director Ali Knott last week was named the 2016 Government Affairs Office (GAO) Hearts for Home Care National Ambassador of the Year!

GAO had the distinct honor of recognizing Ali and four other passionate Ambassadors from our largest-footprint states—Delaware/Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—during our annual Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year awards celebration.

Over the last year, these Ambassadors of the Year connected with, and actively shared, BAYADA’s mission with legislators on behalf of our clients and caregivers.

Ali received the National award after being named the Delaware/Maryland Ambassador of the Year. Since becoming an Ambassador, she has been a consistent supporter and advocate in Delaware public life. In the fall, she and her son, Christopher, met with Senator (now Lt. Governor) Bethany Hall-Long and Senator Nicole Poore where they both made a strong impression on both legislators.

New Jersey Ambassador of the Year Ida Rodriguez, client services manager of Hudson County (HUD) assistive care state programs office, developed and strengthened a relationship with Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, which included a home visit with a HUD client. As a result, Assemblywoman Jimenez signed on as a co-sponsor to a vital piece of legislation that BAYADA supports – A320.

Melissa Zuzolo, director of Conover (CON) assistive care state programs and North Carolina Ambassador of the Year coordinated a home visit, served on the board of the BAYADA NC political action committee and represented BAYADA on the Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

Pennsylvania Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski was named state Ambassador for the final time. During 2016 he served as community liaison in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) assistive care state programs office. Since then, Mike has transitioned his passion for advocacy into a new position within GAO as the new Grassroots Manager. While serving as an Ambassador in 2016, Mike served as a board member of the BAYADA PA political action committee, organized four legislative round tables, and was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf as the sole home care representative to the Governor’s Long-Term Care Council.

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U.S. Senator Tom Carper with the 2016 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year: Melissa Zuzolo (North Carolina), Ali Knott (Delaware/Maryland and National), Ida Rodriguez (New Jersey); Trisha Lasher (Rookie); and Mike Sokoloski (Pennsylvania)

Trisha Lasher, a nurse in the Berks County Visits (BRK) office was named National Rookie Ambassador of the Year. Trisha has the distinction of being our first field employee to serve as an Ambassador. She built a relationship with Representative Jim Cox that was instrumental in helping a client who had been hitting roadblocks for five years to finally get a chair glide installed in her home.

Honorees traveled to Washington, DC to celebrate their achievements. They enjoyed a private festive reception before heading to dinner and the awards presentation at Charlie Palmer Steak. Senator Tom Carper joined the group to address some of the major issues affecting health care at the federal level, and to congratulate our Ambassador of the Year awardees. Before heading home, Ambassadors and their guests also spent time touring the city with stops including the White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the US Capitol.

Thank you to Ali, Ida, Melissa, Mike and Trisha, the GAO team, and to all of our 192 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors for being the unified voice of our clients who can’t always speak up for themselves. It is with your support, and the support of our division directors and directors, that we will continue to make strides toward achieving our BAYADA vision of helping millions of people experience a better quality of life in the comfort of their own homes. After all, as our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year reminded us time and time again, advocacy is The BAYADA Way.

Home Visit Shows Need For Home Care To NJ Legislator

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, NJ Client and Family Advocacy (GAO)

Through the efforts of Hearts for Homecare Ambassador and Director Rose Sample, State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez made a visit to the home of Cherry Hill Pediatric client, Lindsay H. The Senator had the opportunity to meet Lindsay and her mother, Debbie, as well as some of the Pediatric Cherry Hill office staff and Susan Stout, one of the nurses who helps to take care of Lindsay.

According to Rose, both the client’s mom Debbie and nurse Susan were just blown away by the Senator’s compassion and concern.  The Senator and Lindsay’s mom connected on a number of levels.  Senator Cruz-Perez thanked everyone repeatedly and said it made her week to be there.  In follow-up from the meeting with Lindsay’s mom, Debbie shared that, “She seemed like a wonderful and sincere person, and I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to get to know her and share stories.”

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Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez, our client’s mother Debbie H., Rose Sample, Clinical Manager Kara Leahy (pink jacket), Nurse Susan Stout, and our client Lindsay H.