Disability Rights of Filed Lawsuit to Support Community Integration in North Carolina

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

A federal designated protection and advocacy organization, Disability Rights of North Carolina (DRNC), has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) focused on supporting individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

The focus is to ensure individuals are able to receive the services they need through community integration. DRNC is not asking for a set of service definitions, nor are they trying to close organizations, but rather they are focused on building community capacity. They are asking DHHS to adhere to a state statute that calls for community integration and person-centered planning to address the needs of individuals living with ID/DD, regardless of payor. This is the first step in a long legal battle.

We are encouraged that DRNC has filed this state complaint on behalf of our ID/DD families. While this case progresses through the state court system, work continues as normal. We will keep you posted.

North Carolina Budget Released

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

On June 19, lawmakers released a $23 billion budget for 2017-2019. Below are some of the provisions impacting us:

  • Increased Personal Care Services Rate: This provision increases the Medicaid rate for aide services under the Personal Care Services (PCS) program and the Community Alternatives Program for Children (CAP-C). The rate will increase from $13.88 to $15.50 (July 1, 2017) and $15.60 (January 1, 2018) pending approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Much to our disappointment, CAP-DA was left out of the budget. A technical issue made it difficult to increase the CAP-DA rate within the established budget neutrality requirement. A rate increase would have meant fewer authorized hours for clients to stay within overall program requirements. BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office continues to work on a solution.
  • Protected the certificate of need (CON) for home health care from being eliminated.
  • Expanded Innovations Waiver slots: This provision added 400 additional Innovations Waiver slots across the state.

NC Budget Writers are Behind Closed Doors

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

Budget negotiations are underway between the House and Senate to iron out the differences between their respective budget bills. Both contain funds for an increase to the Personal Care Services (PCS) program aide rate from $13.88 to between $15.52 and $15.78. BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) continues to work with key lawmakers to garner support for an amendment to add funds to cover aide services under the Community Alternative Programs for Children (CAP-C) and Disabled Adults (CAP-DA). Language has been drafted and is being circulated. Budget writers are working behind closed doors as House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger have instructed conference chairs to have their committee reports completed by the end week.

In North Carolina, Timing Couldn’t be Better

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

Next week, more than 65 BAYADA employees and one client will be descending upon the state capitol advocating for an increase to the aide reimbursement rate under Medicaid. We seek to go from $13.88 to $17 per hour over two years ($15.50 in year one, and $17.00 in year two), which will allow us to hire and retain more quality aides. Our advocates are poised to share their stories on why investing in home health care is necessary and the right thing to do for their constituents. Also, we will be advocating to preserve the certificate of need (CON) process. Any erosion in CON will negatively impact our Medicare offices. Our timing couldn’t be better, as the Senate is finalizing their budget bill. Donning our BAYADA red, our staff will speak from the heart.

South Carolina Legislative Day a Success

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

Small and Mighty

Last month South Carolina joined the ranks of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania by hosting its first annual lobby day. All participants dressed in BAYADA red, and our smiles were seen and felt as our eight BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors spread our common message—home care keeps families together, and creates jobs in the community while saving the state money.

“I was thrilled to join our small-but-strong BAYADA team in Columbia, SC as we continue to build our fledgling advocacy program,” said Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro. “It is exciting to see the enthusiasm from our SC team as they advocate for our clients and staff, and the very positive reception we got from the legislators and their teams. I am very optimistic about our future in SC.”

During the one-day event, our delegation reached 30 lawmakers, including key house and senate leaders who oversee the Medicaid programs. Medicaid rates are one of the lowest in the nation, and making a connection with members is a great start to resolving that.

Division Director Melissa Allman understands the important role advocacy plays in the political process. She shared, “Building our brand goes hand-in-hand with building relationships with lawmakers. They are responsible for the rates.”

Our advocacy day was a great first step in garnering support for home care. Our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors plan to schedule home and district visits with members over the summer to keep the momentum of our outreach efforts going.

 

Quotes from attendees:

  • Associate Director Nicole Lugo: “Making a personal connection with a lawmaker is simpler than you think. They are people too.”
  • Associate Director Stephanie Black: “This was my first experience and I loved it! I’m convinced the more they know us, the more they’ll see the impact on families, the more they’ll invest in home care.”
  • Associate Director Amy Ramey: “Every senator and representative I spoke with had a story about a family member or friend who has received or is in need of services. I was honored to be a voice for our clients.”
  • Associate Director Cari Altom: “I was impressed that members actually left session to come speak with us in the lobby. Glad I came.”

Pancakes And Politics in North Carolina

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

Special thanks to Shelby (SHE) Associate Director Amber Mitchell and Clinical Manager Vickie Deyton for representing BAYADA at the annual legislative breakfast in Shelby.  Community leaders received an update from the General Assembly; Speaker Tim Moore and Representative Kelly Hastings.  Amber is a familiar face at these legislative events and over the years has built a great relationship with Cleveland County lawmakers. In fact, when they approached for a photo, Rep. Hastings called out, “I’ve got to get on your schedule to do a home visit.”  Attending these community events not only builds awareness of the importance of home health care, but also increases our BAYADA visibility in the community.

Photo NC1 (left to right): Speaker Tim Moore, Vickie Deyton, Amber Mitchell, and Rep. Kelly Hasting

NC: Bill Dropped Moves Us One Step Closer To an Increase

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

Last week, North Carolina Representatives Josh Dobson, Chris Malone, and Gregory Murphy introduced HB 593 – Increase Personal Care Services Rates.  This proposed bill would increase the Medicaid Personal Care Service (PCS) rate to $4.25 per unit ($17.00 per hour) effective January 2018.  The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee for consideration and debate.  While this is a first step of many, it is encouraging to see that our message is being heard.

This year our Legislative Day is even more critical.  Once again, we are collaborating with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) to host the largest legislative day ever.  Mark your calendar and plan to attend the Legislative Day on May 17 in Raleigh.

Home Visits Outreach

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

This quarter, our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors have completed two home visits with assistive care state program clients. In both instances, members were able to visit with a constituent who relies on aide services under Medicaid and heard directly from families on the value our certified nursing assistants (CNAs) play in keeping their family together. Keep up the great work.

• MON Client Services Manager (CSM) Rachel Cauble hosted Representative Dean Arp
• CPC CSM Shayla Jemmott and Deborah Batts hosted Representative Andy Dulin

Protect Home Care

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

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to the 266 BAYADA office staff who made their voices heard. We asked you to write your congressional representatives urging them to support community and home-based care and oppose any changes that would hurt seniors and Medicaid. Utilizing our Hearts for Home Care Advocacy Center, BAYADA staff from across the country sent 813 letters to Congress. Our efforts helped stop the vote, whereby protecting seniors and Medicaid from cuts.

Working on a Solution for the Retro Rate Increase

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

GAO, working collaboratively with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) and Matt Wolfe, AHHC’s legal counsel, continues to work with Medicaid Director Dave Richard and key lawmakers, including Senators Ralph Hise and Tommy Tucker, and Representatives Nelson Dollar and Josh Dobson to resolve a technical issue with the retroactive rate increase for CAP-C nursing. As you may recall the General Assembly appropriated funds last session to increase the nursing rate by 10% effective July 1, 2016. The Department is supportive and is seeking a solution with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). GAO will keep you informed as things develop.