BAYADA Government Affairs Office (GAO) Hosts NJ Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Training

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

With over 45 Hearts for Home Care ambassadors in attendance at the New Jersey Learning Center, Talent Management Office and Leadership Development Project Manager Ron Ross and the Government Affairs Office (GAO) team, offered a full day training on ways the ambassadors can effectively be involved in grassroots advocacy.  The day was filled with interactive activities, focusing on state issues, clients advocacy, and effective storytelling.  Each ambassador had an opportunity to speak about their clients and employee stories which will be very impactful to legislators.  The Ambassador’s next step is to meet with their district legislators during the planned, “Hearts for Home Care Advocacy Week” in May.

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Ambassadors listening to Ron Ross speak

Maryland Ambassadors Meet With Legislators And Key Staffers On Business Issues

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

Five ambassadors and I went to Annapolis on Wednesday to discuss business issues that could have a big impact on our practice. Increasing the minimum wage and mandating paid sick leave are hotly debated issues in this session. Baltimore, MD West Home Health (BWV) Area Director David Pareja, Maryland state resident and Delaware Pediatrics (DP) Associate Director Mandy Brady, Harford County Home Health (HFV) Marketing Manager Nicole Matricciani, Baltimore, MD (BAL) assistive care Associate Director Matt Paske, and DP Intern Tiffany Francis met with 18 legislators and key staffers on these issues and others, protecting our practice and building our reputation with our legislators.

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BAYADA staff in Annapolis

Setting A Rate Floor Gains Traction in Delaware

Representative Debra Heffernan, Vice Chair of the House Health and Human Development Committee, has offered to sponsor and draft a bill that would set a reimbursement rate floor for skilled nursing care for all payers under the state’s Medicaid equal to what Medicaid pays directly.  This bill would go a long way in helping home health care providers have consistency in their plans.  Rep. Heffernan represents an area north of Wilmington along the Delaware River, east of Fairfax.   Two other representatives have offered to sponsor the bill as well, and an additional representative has offered to co-sponsor the bill.

BAYADA Sponsors Second Lobby Day in Massachusetts

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

The Government Affairs Office (GAO) organized a second lobby day for continuous skilled nursing providers and parents to discuss our Patient Bill of Rights.  With over 27 meetings scheduled, we focused on meeting with our legislators that sit on important committees and introduced our need to file a budget amendment to support the increased reimbursement rate needed to compete for a median of nurses.  The day was successful, as we lined up House and Senate budget amendment sponsors and additional co-sponsors for the bill.  As stated by the lobbyists from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, we “have set a solid foundation to build upon.” Next, we wait to see where the House will assign the bill and wait for a budget hearing.

Pennsylvania House And Senate Appropriations Committees Host Marathon Hearings

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

Last week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee hosted hearings for the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. This was an opportunity for the various secretaries to defend the Governor’s proposed 2017-2018 budget.

Each hearing lasted for five hours and covered a variety of subjects.  Much of the discussion centered around the value of home care and Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour. During the hearing, DHS Secretary Ted Dallas acknowledged if the minimum wage is increased, the state will also need to increase reimbursement rates. Secretary Dallas claims a $12 minimum wage would lift 145,000 Pennsylvanians out of poverty and off of assistance. The secretary has calculated that it would save the state $48 million in DHS spending.

Making The Rounds in North Carolina

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

BAYADA Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I met with key lawmakers this past week, seeking their support for a rate increase for aide services under three Medicaid programs – Personal Care Services, Community Alternatives Program for Disabled Adults (CAP-DA), and CAP for Children (CAP-C)- in two different settings: in-home care and adult care homes.  While the lift is heavy, $47.8 million to bring the rate from $13.88 to $17.00 over two years, our conversations were positive.  We also met with the newly appointed but not yet confirmed Secretary of Health & Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen.  A good round of meetings!

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Dave Totaro, Lee and Dobson Rep. Carla Cunningham, who is a nurse

Community Home Care Support Group Meeting A Success In Hazleton, PA

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On February 23, BAYADA sponsored a community client and family home care support group meeting at a hotel in West Hazleton, PA.  Parents, grandparents, home care staff and health care advocacy groups from different sectors of the community were all in attendance.  State Representative Tarah Toohil was the special guest speaker and was involved in an interactive discussion with everyone in attendance.   Families caring for loved ones with special medical needs had the opportunity to network and talk with other advocates and family members and learn of new ideas.  One of the main topics of discussion revolved around the need for more nurses in home health care.  The group is going to stay in contact through an email platform and share ideas, new events and information and reconvene in the spring at the next meeting.

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Attendees of the support group meeting

Making Progress On Equalizing Access To Home And Community-Based Services in PA

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

As a result of a legislative roundtable planned by 2015 Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski, Representative Aaron Kaufer became very interested in helping us equalize access to home and community-based services.  Since then, Representative Kaufer has arranged meetings with executive directors from various legislative committees and made the first attempt at legislation.  He also spoke with the chair of the Public Health Committee Representative Matt Baker.  Due to our consistent follow-up, Representative Baker has decided to take up our issue himself with the support of Representative Kaufer.  We are working with him to craft legislation and look forward to working with him throughout the legislative process.

Register for PA Lobby Day in Harrisburg

More Than 500 Volunteers For Hansen For Special Election in Delaware

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

In a special election, widely considered an indicator of the political climate following the presidential inauguration, Democrat Stephanie Hansen won in Senate District 10, 58%-42%, with a surprisingly large voter and volunteer turnout.  The seat was vacated by now Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long.  This victory keeps the chamber under a Democratic majority.  I met Senator-elect Hansen at an event in January.  While healthcare was not one of her core campaign issues, we have seen indicators that she could be a champion for home health care.

Monroe, NC Offices Visit With Representative Dean Arp

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

As a new Hearts for Home Care ambassador, MON Clinical Service Manager Rachel Cauble was a bit nervous about organizing a home visit until she realized who she was inviting.  “As my Sunday school teacher, it was easy to get him to agree,” said Rachel.  “And it goes to show that lawmakers are regular people.”  Representative Dean Arp visited with MON and MP staff on February 17 and toured the skills labs before heading to the home visit.  Prior to his stroke, our client, Mr. Jones was a HVAC mechanic.  Rep. Arp, as an engineer, connected quickly with our client as they shared stories of challenging service calls that Mr. Jones was able to fix.  This was a great opportunity for Rep. Arp to learn of home health care and the challenges we face due to the low reimbursement aide rate.  He indicated that the House of Representatives is looking at ways to stretch the Medicaid dollar and to find a way to help.  Click here to read the press release and view more pictures.

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MP staff with Rep. Arp
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MON staff with Rep. Arp