Home Visits in North and South Carolina Show Legislators Importance of Home Care

North and South Carolina legislators visit with home care clients to discuss Medicaid reimbursement rates and other issues related to the home care industry
Left: Former state senator and current candidate for North Carolina’s 119th district Joe Sam Queen discusses home care with Mike G. Right: South Carolina representative Richard Yow visits Mitchell H. and his family to learn about the benefits of home care in keeping families together.

The southern heat isn’t stopping our advocates from going above and beyond for home care. Recently, Hearts for Home Care has seen an influx of activity from our home care employee advocates, who have been scheduling meetings with legislators, coordinating in-office legislative roundtables, and most importantly, demonstrating home care’s impact by hosting home visits, in which legislators come in to a client’s home. Home visits are the most impactful way to demonstrate the importance of home care to legislators because it gives them a chance to see firsthand how their constituents receive services. When our state decisionmakers see the impact of home care on local residents, they are more likely to support policies that benefit the home care industry.

Last month, BAYADA Home Health Care’s Rock Hill Skilled Nursing Office hosted South Carolina state Representative Richard Yow, who visited his constituent Mitchell H. in Lancaster, SC. Mitchell relies on home care to stay at him with his mother, Tammy, and his son, Allen. Seeing how home care allows Mitchell to watch his son grow and thrive impacted Rep. Yow, who stated, “Spending time with Mitchell’s family puts a different perspective on the state’s home care situation. Its past time that we in South Carolina hold insurance companies accountable and do what we can do to ensure that families wanting to take care of their loved ones at home have the necessary equipment and support to do so.” Rep. Yow even assisted the family in securing a spot at a local summer camp!

Last week, Lee Dobson and service office director Taylor McClure led former senator and current candidate for North Carolina’s 119th district Joe Sam Queen on a visit to client Mike G. Mike, who lives alone with no immediate family in the area, relies on his certified nursing assistant (CNA) Kassie to stay at home. Kassie, who has been with Mike since 2016, said, “Mike has become like family to me. I’m glad I can help him stay as independent as possible.” Queen stated, “It is clear serving folks at their home and out of higher-cost settings is better for the individual and better for North Carolina. Access to health care, including Medicaid, is critical as our state grapples with rising healthcare costs. We should be using our tax dollars wisely to help our citizens while creating quality local jobs and providing that much needed care.”

Hearts for Home Care’s home visit program has been recognized by our federal partners for its effectiveness in demonstrating the impact home care has to state legislators. Recently, the Partnership for Quality Home Health (PQHH), asked us to begin a federal home visit campaign to further educate our representatives and senators in Congress on home care’s effectiveness in keeping residents safe and independent at home. In addition to the above mentioned home visits, Hearts for Home Care advocates have conducted additional home visits in North and South Carolina, and home visits in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

It is clear how impactful home visits can be in influencing our legislators’ perception of home care. To learn about how you can get involved in advocacy and how you can plan a home visit, email advocacy@bayada.com today!

Rate Increase Secured from Partners Behavioral Health–Work Continues

Great news for our NC Habilitation offices that operate under Partners Behavioral Health, a Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO) that oversees Medicaid’s Innovation Waiver in western North Carolina. After more than of a year of advocating for rate parity for like services, Partners announced yesterday rate increases for community-based services. The Community Living & Support rate will see a 9% increase, bringing it to $20.28 effective August 1, 2018.

This much-needed increase will allow BAYADA to hire and retain more qualified professionals and take care of more individuals at home and in the community. While this is a great step forward, our work is not done yet. BAYADA, along with our Hearts for Home Care advocates, will continue to push towards more rate increases so that we can ensure that North Carolina has enough high-quality caregivers to meet the growing demand for home care services. Our field staff deserve better wages, and our clients and all of those who wish to remain at home in North Carolina deserve better access to quality services.

Thank you to all our advocates who supported this increase through your input and your contact with legislators. We truly are #StrongerTogether.

North Carolina’s Efforts Towards Medicaid Transformation Continue to Move Forward

The General Assembly passed two bills, H. 403  and H. 156,  which work together to clarify the implementation of the Standard and Behavioral Health/Intellectual-Developmental Disability (BH/I-DD) Tailored Plans and the licensure requirements for Prepaid Health Plan (PHP) managers under Medicaid Transformation.

In a historic move, legislators voted to move Medicaid recipients with mild-to-moderate behavioral health needs under the Standard Plan for Medicaid services. Individuals with a serious mental illness, a serious emotional disturbance, a severe substance use disorder, an intellectual/developmental disability, US DOJ settlement consumers, or individuals who have survived a traumatic brain injury are the defined population that will fall under the Tailored Plan.

The BH/I-DD Tailored Plan will begin one year after the Standard Plan with the LME/MCOs as the lead plan managers working with another PHP to offer the physical healthcare services for Tailored Plan Medicaid recipients for four years after that. The timelines incorporated in these bills push for North Carolina to complete the transition to the Standard and Tailored Plans as well as moving other specialty populations under managed care within five years of CMS approval.

GAO and our internal advisory workgroup continues to provide feedback through stakeholder involvement to ensure access to quality care as North Carolina moves toward Managed Care. If you have any questions about this process or the future of Medicaid in our state, please email me at ldobson@bayada.com.

12.37% Rate Increase for Community Alternatives Program for Disabled Adults (CAP-DA)

Great news for BAYADA clients and the many North Carolinian disabled adults that wish to remain at home with the help of in-home caregivers! The Medicaid CAP-DA program will see a rate increase from $13.88 to $15.60, effective January 1, 2019.  This increase brings parity between the three Medicaid aide programs, Personal Care Services (PCS), CAP-C for Children and CAP-DA for disabled adults.

This much needed increase will  enable BAYADA to hire and retain more quality caregivers to serve the many adults with disabilities in North Carolina. Thus, our service offices that serve CAP-DA eligible clients will be able to staff the necessary cases and keep families together and keeping clients whether they want to be – at home.

BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO), collaboratively with the Association for Home & Hospice Care, worked behinds the scenes with both Medicaid and key lawmakers to ensure this provision was adopted this session. Additionally, we made great strides towards this increase during our 2018 Legislative Day in which several client advocates came to share their stories with lawmakers and talk about the necessity of such increases. Thank you to those who came and shared their voices! We will continue to fight for higher rates to ensure that all North Carolinians will be able to access high-quality, reliable in-home care.

 

Unusual Adjournment Grants Republican Super-Majority One Last Session in November

This year has proven to be anything but normal at the General Assembly. Instead of adjournment with sine die, which indicates that no future business schedule this session, the Republican majority passed House Joint Resolution 1101, which calls back lawmakers on November 27.  This political power move gives the Republican super-majority one last session no matter what happens on election day.

Despite this unusual legislative session, BAYADA managed to accomplish the following legislative priorities:

  • Secured a 12.37% aide rate increase for CAP-DA, effective Jan 2019
  • Protected Certificate of Need from elimination for our Medicare offices
  • Secured a 9% rate increase from Partners Behavioral Health for our Habilitation offices, effective August 1, 2018

Thank You to our many ambassadors and advocates that helped us achieve these goals. We could not have done it without your passionate voices coming together to support all of North Carolina’s home care employees and clients.

Ambassadors Spring into Action! NC 2018 Ambassador Training Day

GAO and our North and South Carolina Ambassadors met in Charlotte, NC on March 14th for a day packed with thoughtful discussion about the scope, significance, and impact of our advocacy efforts. Whether they discussed legislative priorities, advocacy strategies and techniques, or the relationships that drive the work they do, our Ambassadors made it increasingly clear that they are passionate and prepared to be the voice for their clients, for their client’s families, and for themselves.

Among the day’s highlights was a visit from Representative Carla Cunningham, a former hospice nurse who represents North Carolina’s 106th district. Representative Cunningham has been a staunch advocate for health care, mental health, seniors, women, and children. Representative Cunningham offered our ambassadors a window into the legislative process and encouraged them to be dedicated, prepared, collaborative, and respectful. We were joined also by Wilburn, who has been a BAYADA client for 11 years. Wilburn spoke of the deep connections he shares with his caregivers and with the people he has met in his own advocacy efforts.

Our ambassadors are ready to move forward and be the competent, dedicated, and reliable voices that BAYADA needs to ensure that Wilburn and all our clients receive the care they deserve. It only takes one action, taken by only one person to make a difference. You can be that person today. Email advocacy@bayada.com to see how you can get involved!

BAYADA Submits Opposition Letters to a Certificate of Need (CON) Carve-out

Last month, 100% of our Medicare offices advocated for maintaining a level-playing field and allowing patient choice by opposing a CON carve-out petition. After their four failed legislative attempts last session to receive a CON carve-out, LeadingAge Inc. – the association representing the Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) – submitted a petition to the State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) requesting CCRCs be allowed to open a Medicare home health office without meeting the requirements outlined in North Carolina statute regarding CON. LeadingAge contend their CCRC residents would rather receive home health services from someone with a CCRC name badge than an “outside” Medicare provider, like BAYADA. In their testimony, LeadingAge indicated that there is no access to care for their residents. Further, LeadingAge indicated they wanted to restrict choice to their on-site agency. The Department received comments to the petition and record 88 letters in opposition, 10 of which were from BAYADA. Each director submitted unique comments. SHCC will consider the comments before rendering a decision later this month.

If you have any questions about CON or what you can do to help advocate for policies beneficial to BAYADA and the home care industry in North Carolina, email me at ldobson@bayada.com.

Special High Five to our directors for taking a stand to maintain patient choice!

CAV – Rochelle Harbick
CV – Rochelle Harbick
DAV – Tonya Wishon
FSV – Alexa Ciancia
GAV – Tonya Steelman
GUV – Chelsea Nedwick
PRV – Kathleen Hanline
RV – Trekelia Chavis
SV – Alicia Wyatt

NC Primary Elections are Scheduled for May 8

For the first time in recent history, North Carolina has contests in every single district and for every single seat. Both the Democrats and Republicans report candidates in all races across the state. Primary elections are scheduled for May 8 where there are 74 legislative primary election and another 19 among the state’s congressional elections. County Boards of Elections report that absentee ballots are being distributed. Verify whether there is a primary in your voting district and download a sample ballot by visiting the State Board of Elections.

Preparing for NC’s Short Legislative Session

BAYADA Government Affairs Area Director Lee Dobson (right) poses with North Carolina Representative Mitchell S. Setzer (left).

On May 16, lawmakers will return to Raleigh for North Carolina’s 2018-2019 Legislative Session.  Issues are likely to move very quickly as this is the second year in the legislature’s two-year cycle. Unlike the cycle’s first year, this year’s purpose is to make budget adjustments and finalize any carry-over bills. GAO has been meeting with key members in leadership to garner necessary support for our 2018 priorities (see below). GAO hopes that primary elections, redistricting, and Medicaid Transformation do not consume all the oxygen in the room so that legislators can get some work completed before concluding in June.

2018 Key Legislative Priorities:

  • Technical correction to increase the Community Assistance Program for Disabled Adults (CAP-DA) rate from $13.88 to $15.60, effective October 1, 2018
  • Increase the Personal Care Services (PCS), Community Assistance Program from Children (CAP-C), and Community Assistance Program for Disabled Adults (CAP-DA) rates to $17.00 effective January 1, 2019
  • Protect Certificate of Need (CON) from elimination.

If you have any questions about our 2018 priorities or how you can help advocate, please email me at ldobson@bayada.com

Together We Get Results

Speaker Tim Moore, Vickie Deyton, Amber Mitchell, and Rep. Kelly Hastings at a legislative event

Legislative successes, like the NC Medicaid rate increase for nursing in 2015 and 2016 and the home health aide increase this past year, don’t magically happen.  Legislative successes start with an identified need — low Medicaid rates made it impossible to pay people what they are worth — and end with legislators supporting jobs in the community and keeping families together by investing in home health care.  Every step along the way our Hearts for Home Care Advocates carried our unified message to decision-makers. Our cumulative actions over the years, including home and district visits, legislative round tables with lawmakers, responding to calls to action, attending lobby days, etc., made all the difference.  Individually and collectively our shared voices got results.  Join us to be a Heart for Home Care Advocate.