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

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

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

NJ PAC Members Support Legislators Who Support Home Care

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

February was a busy Political Action Committee (PAC) month, as the NJ PAC supported 6 legislative events.  PEDs Director Christine Rios and PCP Director Megan Seyler attended Senator Robert Gordon’s event.  Senator Gordon is one of the co-sponsors of bill A320, which sets a floor for managed Medicaid reimbursement.

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PEDs Director Christine Rios, Senator Gordon and PCP Director Megan Seyler

BAYADA Client and Family Advocacy Director Rick Hynick attended Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald’s Flyers game event.  Rick spent time thanking the Majority leader for all his support.  Other legislators supported include Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Assemblymen Paul Moriarty, Craig Coughlin and Arthur Barclay.  Home visits were offered to the legislators who are interested in learning more about home health care.

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Client Advocacy Director Rick Hynick and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald

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.

PA Governor Tom Wolf Announces Plan to Consolidate Departments Crucial to Home Care

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

During Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address, he proposed consolidating the Department of Human Services (formerly known as the Department of Public Welfare) the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, and the Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs.  If the consolidation goes through it will be called the PA Department of Health & Human Services.  It will also be one of the largest state agencies in the United States.  There are concerns by many advocacy groups that this could lead to additional bureaucracy and more items getting “lost in the shuffle”.  Wolf claims the consolidation will lead to seniors and disabled individuals having greater support and coordination of benefits.  BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) will continue to track this proposal and evaluate the impact.  To read the full announcement click here.

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.

Debates Heating Up In Baltimore City, MD

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

Debate over mandating employer-paid sick leave statewide and an increased minimum wage for Baltimore City is heating up this week.  Both are expected to pass.  By the end of last week, the Maryland Senate and the House both reached their thousandth bill introduced since the 2017 session opened in mid-January.  Bills must be fully approved by both chambers before the last day of session, which is April 10 this year, or start anew in the following year in the state’s condensed legislative calendar.