As I reflect on 2017 and what we have accomplished, the first thing that comes to mind is Thank You. Thank you for your support, your engagement and your advocacy efforts — all of which made a difference in the lives of our clients, families and employees.
2017 was the “Year of Client Advocacy and Engagement.” Clients and families engaged lawmakers and the community at-large through home visits, family support group meetings, and phone calls and meetings with lawmakers in Trenton. These efforts ensured that our aides, nurses, and the importance of home care remained top of mind to New Jersey representatives and senators.
2017 was successful in many ways and set us up for even bigger wins in 2018. Below, please find a summary of 2017’s priorities and accomplishments:
• The Managed Medicaid Rate Floor bill was signed into law, effective July 1, 2018. The new law mandates a 100% pass-through of increased reimbursement to aides. In 2018 we will introduce a new bill which will be more reflective of a competitive wage environment and will mirror the original bill with no mandated pass-through.
• The Personal Care Assistant (PCA) fee-for-service rate was raised from $18.00 per hour to $19.00 per hour through a budget resolution, effective July 1, 2017.
• We successfully lobbied against Governor Christie’s intent to end the NJ/PA Reciprocity Tax agreement. This accomplishment saved our employees and BAYADA thousands of dollars in taxes.
• In July, the Private Duty Nursing (PDN) bill was introduced. This bill’s aim is to raise the PDN reimbursement rate by $10 per hour for RNs and LPNs. While the bill did not ultimately pass the state legislature in 2017, it brought awareness to the need for higher reimbursement rates within the program. We will continue to pursue this bill’s passage as a major goal for 2018.
• In conjunction with NJ’s Home Care Association, we successfully lobbied for legislation that permits physical therapy aides to practice in clients’ homes as long as the aides are supervised by a licensed physical therapist every two weeks.
• The BAYADA Champion Awards were held in December. This year we honored Lieutenant Governor-elect Sheila Oliver, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and Senator-elect Declan O’Scanlon for their unwavering support of home care.
• BAYADA hosted a fundraiser for Senator-elect Troy Singleton, raising over $13,000 for his election fund.
• BAYADA reviewed and submitted comments to the state regarding the new 10:60 home care regulations.
Looking ahead to 2018, we will be working with Governor-elect Murphy and NJ legislators new and old to continue to advance home care and community-based services for our state’s neediest populations. GAO seeks to push for new laws to improve reimbursement rates within the PDN program, introduce legislation to provide technical changes to the current PCA managed care law, pursue minimum wage law changes, address parking challenges for our nurses and, of course, continue to advocate on behalf of our employees, clients and their families.
Cheers to an exciting year ahead! If you would like to get more involved in New Jersey’s advocacy program, sign up to become a Heart for Home Care Advocate.