Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs Restructures Rates

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

The Deputy Secretary of the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Nancy Thaler released a statement that she would establish one statewide rate for services and that all rates would go up.  This is a welcomed move as it also supports our legislative priority of establishing one statewide rate and increasing the personal assistant services rate to $20.58.  We plan to ensure our legislative champions know about this move in our upcoming meetings.

PA Office of Long-Term Living Announces Temporary Rate Floors

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

Last week, during the Pennsylvania Homecare Association Annual Conference, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) Jen Burnett announced Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) will be required to reimburse providers at least the state posted fee-for-service reimbursement rate for personal assistant services. This “rate floor” will be in effect for the first 36 months post transition of each region. After the announcement, I had the opportunity to speak with Deputy Secretary Burnett, and she stated the reason OLTL made that decision was to provide stability for providers. During our conversation, I asked that her office consider extending the temporary rate floor to registered nurse (RN) and licensed practical nurse (LPN) services as well for the same reason. She invited us to meet with her formally to discuss. BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) will work to set up a meeting with OLTL to lobby for the inclusion of RN and LPN services in the 36-month rate floor.

BAYADA Hosts First PA Virtual Lobby Day April 26th-28th

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

As you know, April 25th is Lobby Day in Harrisburg with the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

To magnify our impact, we are asking that all staff, especially those unable to be in Harrisburg in person contact their State Representative and State Senator between April 26th and April 28th and ask them to support our issues.

Our message is simple.

“On Tuesday, April 25th my colleagues came to Harrisburg to discuss a variety of issues impacting home care. Home care is a 24/7 job and I was unable to join my colleagues because I was assisting Pennsylvanians receive the quality, cost-effective home care they need.”

We have created an easy template with additional information for you to follow. Please take two minutes to call or email your legislators to urge them to support BAYADA and PHA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of our clients and the staff who care for them.

Look for the email from GAO on April 26th.

PA Ambassador Named 2017 BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Rookie of the Year

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

 Each year the Government Affairs Office (GAO) selects one outstanding Ambassador as their Rookie of the Year. The individual honored must be a new Ambassador who has made an impact on clients’ lives and on the Ambassador program.

As GAO discussed the nominees it was evident that Berks County Visits (BRK) Nurse Trisha Lasher was the clear winner.  Trisha is an RN and was BAYADA’s first field employee to serve as a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador.

While she was nervous about her first meeting with a legislator, she decided to keep her commitments as promised and do it on her own. We are so happy she did because she hasn’t stopped since. Trisha started by visiting Representative Jim Cox (R) in his district, and followed up with him later that year in Harrisburg at Lobby Day. She wrote about her experience in the BAYADA Bulletin, which prompted a joint home visit with Representative Cox and the Reading Adult (RAD) Office. Because of the relationship she has built with Representative Cox, he took immediate action to help an adult client when he visited her.

The client had been trying to get a chair glide installed in her house for five years. After the visit, Representative Cox made several calls to service coordinators, found systemic fraud and flaws in the system, and was able to get the client the chair glide within six weeks of the home visit.

Building on their relationship, Representative Cox agreed to write letters of support for our pediatric rate increase and the Medicaid spend-down issue.

To further her advocacy efforts, as election time rolled around and GAO hosted the Bring the Vote Home Campaign, Trisha enlisted the help of all the office staff to call all clients. They educated clients on voting, the PHA voter guide, and let them know about absentee ballots. Trisha then organized field employees to deliver absentee ballots.

From building relationships to advocating for clients’ needs, Trisha has shown her dedication to being an excellent Hearts for Home Care Ambassador.

Honorees traveled to Washington, DC to celebrate their achievements. They enjoyed a private festive reception before heading to dinner and the awards presentation at a local restaurant. 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.

BAYADA GAO Attends Event Honoring 2015 BAYADA Home Health Care Champion Bill Adolph

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

The Springfield Republicans hosted an event to thank Representative Adolph for his service this past St. Patrick’s Day.

Representative Bill Adolph served as the House Appropriations Chair and was a key legislator in helping us achieve a $5 per hour increase for pediatric shift nursing in Pennsylvania in 2016.

His tireless advocacy and perseverance helped ensure BAYADA will be able to recruit and retain the nurses needed to serve our pediatric population.

Unfortunately for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Representative Adolph retired from the legislature at the end of last year.

Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I had the opportunity to attend the evening and thank Representative Bill Adolph again for championing our rate increase.  The event was well-attended with over 200 local supporters, dignitaries, and elected officials. We also had the opportunity to see Senator Scott Wagner, who is also running for Governor, and Congressmen Pat Meehan.

 

BAYADA Direct Care Worker named 2017 Pennsylvania Department of Aging Direct Care Worker of the Year!

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

Each year the PA Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) request nominations for the Direct Care Worker (DCW) of the Year.  The DCW is an individual who goes above and beyond in their work and provides essential services to older Pennsylvanians and disabled adults.

This year there were over 160 nominations. BAYADA nominated 21 aides from our offices.

The award was given at PHA’s Direct Care Worker Forum in Harrisburg. Each aide that was nominated was invited to attend. The day consisted of professional development, a motivational speaker and a DCW survey on the challenges of the profession.

Towards the end of the event PA Department of Aging Secretary named  BAYADA Philadelphia Corporation of Aging –West Home Health Aide Anne Pannone as the DCW of the year.

Anne will be recognized again at the PHA Annual Conference in the Poconos.

Congratulations to all the aides who were nominated.

Click here to read the BAYADA Blog article about Anne

Click here to see photos from the event

Why is HealthChoices Delayed?

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

As many may know by now, the Department of Human Services recently announced they would delay and stagger the implementation of the new HealthChoices contracts. This was due to several bid protests and court battles currently working its way through the system.

This pushes the implementation to January of 2018.  The current plan is to rollout the new HealthChoices contracts:

January 2018                Southwest & Northwest

March 2018                   Northeast

July 2018                       Southeast

January 2019                Lehigh/Capitol

This will make the staggered roll-out similar to the Community HealthChoices implementation plan.

But why the delay?

Simply put, there are billions of dollars at stake.  The total funds available for HealthChoices are  estimated to be over $12 billion. So those organizations that do not win bids miss out on one of the largest state contracts in the US.

Number of Regions in Old ContractNumber of Regions in New Contract
Centene33
Health Partners12
United50
UPMC for You54
Keystone11
Gateway25
Aetna10
AmeriHealth32

This could also be one of the reasons why DHS is staggering the roll out. With the staggered roll out the Lehigh Capitol region transitions in January of 2019. This means that United and Amerihealth will get to keep their consumers for almost two years longer than originally anticipated.

We are still expecting court challenges which could delay the implementation further.

For your reference, I have included charts which details what MCOs were awarded what regions and the number of regions they were awarded.

GAO continues to monitor this situation and will update the pediatric leadership as more information becomes available.

 

 

 

 

 

GAO Makes Progress on Rate Increase During Meeting with Senator Scott Wagner

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

On April 6th BAYADA Leaders, including Practice President David Baiada, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, Assistive Care State Programs (ACSP) Practice Leader Eric Thul, Crocus Division Director Kevin Kuzmick, PCA Director Donna Russell-Kane, and I  met with Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner.  This meeting was a result of a previous meeting that Dave Totaro and I had with Senator Wagner introducing the need to increase the personal assistant services (PAS) rate under the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) by an average of 10%.

The meeting took place in the BAYADA PCA office. We discussed the ACSP business, its challenges and advantages, as well as the wage issues associated with the program.  Senator Wagner also heard first-hand about what it’s like to be a home health aide from PA Department of Aging’s Direct Care Worker of the Year, BAYADA aide Anne Pannone. 

The conversation was productive, and Senator Wagner understands the value of home care and the cost savings it can provide to the Commonwealth. He has agreed to help us in our legislative priority of increasing the PAS rates and would also like to spend a day in the field with Anne to see the work first-hand.

We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Wagner.

MassHealth Announces Second Rate Increase In The Face Of Budget Deficit

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

Last week, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, Boston Pediatrics Director Emery Hughes, and other industry leaders and families gathered together to meet with MassHealth.  MassHealth had asked for the meeting, in regards to the Continuous Skilled Nursing (CSN) program.  During the meeting, MassHealth stated that they recognized that low reimbursement rates were a major problem within the program.  They have planned to increase the rates by 2.25% effective July 1, 2017.  This is the second reimbursement increase we have been notified about within three months.  The organizations working to increase this rate were pleased with this movement but recognized that this is a fraction of what is needed to stabilize the rates.  We look forward to continuing our efforts to increase the CSN rates by a total of $15 per hour.

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.