Bills in Motion at the NC General Assembly

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

  1. Certificate of Need (CON) under Attack  In the course of 48 hours 4 bills related to CON were filed to either eliminate or modify CON law. As any changes to CON will negatively impact our existing Medicare offices, our GAO Advisory Council identified protection of CON as a 2017 legislative goal. GAO continues to meet with the various bill sponsors to educate them the negative impact such changes would have on the home health industry. We continue to work behind-the-scenes to prevent their enactment.
  2. Medicaid Reform under Review  While the Medicaid Reform 1115 c Waiver application is being reviewed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), there is discussion of a new model emerging from Governor Roy Cooper’s office in conjunction with the General Assembly. GAO continues to work with legislative leaders and the department to ensure quality access to care exists in whatever model emerges.
  3. Trillium LME/MCO Proposed CAP-C/DA Pilot  Senator Michael Lee sponsored a bill to allow Trillium Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO), a managed mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disability payor, to administer a CAP-C/DA pilot in the coastal area. Analysis of the bill indicates this pilot would have a negative impact on recipients. GAO is working with the bill sponsor to explain the pitfalls of moving coastal recipients into a pilot when these individuals are currently transitioning into a new waiver.
  4. Opioid Bill’s Unintended Consequence  Representative Gregory Murphy sponsored a bill to tighten opioid prescriptions. While we support increased oversight for misuse of prescriptions drugs, the bills language, in its current state, will create a safe-haven for pillpushers. AHHC is taking the lead to work with the bill sponsor to modify the language to eliminate the loop-hole and craft a meaningful bill, as intended.

Rate Increase Discussions Underway in North Carolina

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

GAO has been working collaboratively with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) laying the groundwork for an increase this legislative session. As approved by our GAO Advisory Council, we are seeking to increase the aide rate under 3 programs and 2 settings from $13.88 to $17.00, over a 2-year period ($15.50 and $17.00). Substantive conversations with key lawmakers are gaining traction. This increase is a huge lift at $23.9M each year. Our legislative day, scheduled for May 17, will focus on garnering broad support for this much needed increase. Legislative Day registration is coming soon.

 

Mike Sokoloski Transitions to Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

​I am thrilled to announce that Mike Sokoloski transitioned from community liaison to join BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) team on Monday, March 13. He is the first manager of our grassroots advocacy efforts.

In this new role, Mike is responsible for overseeing and leading the work of BAYADA’s Hearts for Homecare, a companywide grassroots advocacy program that was created to support and help achieve our long-term vision. He will not only lead the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Program in five states—Delaware, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania—but will also create an outreach program to engage our field employees in advocacy. They are on the front lines of care delivery and, as many of our priorities directly impact them, this new program will give our field employees a voice to share their powerful stories. While Mike will report directly to me, he will support the other GAO state directors in their grassroots initiatives.

Prior to his transition, Mike was a community liaison for six years for two of BAYADA’s adult home care offices in northeastern PA, where he successfully managed relationships with referral sources in the community. Mike was appointed to the PA Long-Term Care Council in October of 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf as the only home care representative. He is an appointed member of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board, serving since 2013. He is also vice-president of the Northeast PA Aging Network Alliance, promoting awareness of services and issues affecting older adults in northeastern PA.

As community liaison, Mike was no stranger to government affairs. For his efforts, he was named BAYADA’s Ambassador of the Year 2014 and 2015, and PA Ambassador of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. His past success makes him an excellent choice to boost our grassroots advocacy efforts.

Mike’s immediate areas of focus include enhancing the Ambassador Program through mentorship and support of our active Ambassadors, and developing an outreach platform—piloting it in Pennsylvania—to engage our field employees, who are an untapped voice for advocacy.

Please join me in welcoming Mike to GAO!

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.

 

Photo: MON staff with Rep. Arp
Photo2: MP staff with Rep. Arp

North Carolina State Budget Surplus Projected

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

NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger indicated that the state will have a budget surplus of over $500 million on a budget of $22.5 billion.  While this projection is encouraging, our legislative asks remains high.  Our increase request will take the aide rate from $13.88 to $17.00 over two years, which is nearly a fifty million dollar appropriation.  To put things into perspective, last year there was a $425 budget surplus and our legislative ask was $3.6 million for nursing.  We continue to garner support for this much needed increase.  Watch for ways to get involved.

NC Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Announced

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

Dr. Mandy Cohen has been appointed by NC Governor Roy Cooper as the new Department of Health & Human Services Secretary to lead Medicaid.  Cohen, an internist, carries a wealth of experience and knowledge having recently served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Baltimore.  She plans to partner with healthcare providers, consumers, regulators, and lawmakers for a healthier state. BAYADA submitted formal comments on four Medicaid clinical policies.  Special thanks to the division director review teams for their insight and guidance in drafting these recommendations.

Caption: Dr. Mandy Cohen

Breakfast With A Purpose in North Carolina

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

To commemorate the start of the 2017-2018 regular session, our staff attended an annual breakfast in Raleigh on January 11.  As hosts of the event, staff had a 30 minute private mingle with members.  We were able to thank lawmakers for the nursing increase last year, and to discuss the less-than-adequate aide rate and the overly burdensome and varying administrative requirements of Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organizations.  Further, Senator Shirley Randleman, a home care supporter, thanked us for keeping her in the loop on a constituent issue where a medically fragile child is in jeopardy of losing his private duty nursing.  To which Randleman said, “For the insurance company to say this baby is stable and doesn’t need home health care is unbelievable.”  She is willing to help in any way possible.  Events like this allow us to continue to build relationship with lawmakers.  Click here for photos.   Special thanks to the following staff members who represented BAYADA:

  • Chad Shore
  • Dena Hinkle
  • Donna Heatherly
  • Elizabeth Goad
  • Trip Smithdeal
Photo: BAYADA advocates at the Women in Politics breakfast on January 11.

South Carolina: First Ask

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

This year, will be the first year in many years that we will be working with lawmakers to garner support for a much needed Medicaid rate increase.  We are partnering with other providers, as well as the South Carolina Association for Home & Hospice Care to ensure a unified voice.  Lawmakers return to Columbia on January 10, where we will work with leadership in both chambers. Senator Hugh Leatherman, Sr. of Florence will remain the chair of Finance and Senator Harvey Peeler, Jr. of Cherokee will lead Medical Affairs.  In the House, Representative Brian White will remain chair of Ways and Means.

North Carolina: We’re Off To The Races

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

Lawmakers return to Raleigh, NC for the start of the 2017-2019 legislative session on January 11.  We expect to see a few changes in committee assignments and leadership, especially in House Appropriations for Health & Human Services (HHS), with the election defeat of Representative Marilyn Avila.  However, we anticipate (and are thrilled) that Representative Nelson Dollar will remain Chair of HHS Appropriations and Representative Josh Dobson will assume the leadership position of vice-chair on that committee.  Senators Ralph Hise and Louis Pate will remain Co-Chairs of Senate Appropriations for HHS.  Our reimbursement priority is to increase the Medicaid aide rate from $13.88 to $17.00 over two years.