BAYADA Officially Launches Government Affairs Office Overseeing New York and Rhode Island

The Government Affairs Office (GAO) is excited to announce its expansion into New York and Rhode Island! Expansion into both states means that GAO can begin directly lobbying state lawmakers for better home care policies and reimbursement rates, and can begin to directly involve New York and Rhode Island staff, clients, and families in advocacy efforts.

What is GAO’s mission?

  • The BAYADA Government Affairs Office (GAO) will represent the Company to all levels of local, state and federal government entities, regulatory agencies and community organizations (What we do)
  • Our mission is to act as a voice for our clients, their families and our employees through education, advocacy, service and research (What makes us different)
  • This will result in legislation, regulation, and policies which are supportive of home care services that provide the highest quality of care and will enable patients to remain in their homes (What benefits our clients receive)

What are GAO’s goals?

  • Build awareness
  • Secure adequate resources
  • Foster policies supportive of home health care
  • Engage staff and clients in advocacy on behalf of BAYADA staff and clients

How does GAO accomplish its mission and goals?

GAO operates through a three-pronged approach:

  • Direct Lobbying: Accomplished mainly through the GAO director as determined by BAYADA leadership in the state
  • Grassroots Advocacy: GAO engages employees, clients, and families through our Hearts for Home Care program and our Ambassador program, and through our PACs. Like our Hearts for Home Care Facebook page to be updated on our efforts and relevant home care news.
  • Supporting our Champions: BAYADA supports state and federal legislators that support home care. Legislators that support home care understand our industry’s issues and our staff and clients’ needs. BAYADA supports our champions largely through our state and federal Political Action Committees (PACs). Rhode Island and New York do not yet have PACs, but stay tuned! Full-time, exempt and salaried office employees are able to support our federal legislators by joining BAYADA’s federal PAC.

The Heart of Client Advocacy: How You Can Make a Difference

Home care client advocates for his disabled wife and his home health aide
Mike Pollock (left) advocates on behalf of his wife Kathy (center in red) and Kathy’s aide Alma (standing)

Imagine this scene: A woman feels a familiar, nagging stiffness in her lower back as she leans over the edge of the tub to bathe her teenage daughter. Her daughter, who has a significant degenerative muscular disease, sits quietly and securely on a customized bath chair that fits snugly inside the tub. The tub area is decorated with different pieces of adaptive equipment such as a specialty grab bar, floor mat, hand-held shower head, and other items to make the bathing process possible for a person who cannot physically jump in and out of the shower. From start to finish, the entire bathing process takes more than an hour to safely complete.

Whether it is giving a bath, doing a tracheostomy change, starting a gastronomy tube feed, or transporting someone with multiple pieces of medical equipment, families who care for a loved one with a significant medical condition live a vastly different lifestyle than many other families. This lifestyle is not easily understood unless you’ve experienced it.

Legislative advocacy makes a difference

We have learned that when our clients and families talk to our elected officials and the people who make decisions about health care funding and regulations, it makes a difference. We have seen clear evidence across our country that when more people speak up, creating a stronger and louder voice, it is more likely that government-funded insurances—such as Medicaid and Medicare—will adjust funding and regulations to benefit families.

Many of our elected officials have personally not had the experience of bathing an adult child, performing a tracheostomy change, or providing the other types of medical and personal care that are frequently needed in the home. It’s also sometimes forgotten that this care is not just provided once a week or month, but many times a day or week, over years—over a lifetime. The continuous nature of these care needs is what makes home health care services so necessary.

We consult with legislators and insurance officials and ask for increases in our reimbursement rates so we can hire more employees and reduce open shifts for our clients. Our requests often are not approved. However, when the families who actually use the home care services join with us, it makes a big difference.

When clients and families explain why it is important to them not to have open shifts or why their paid caregiver needs a better wage, and share their personal experiences from within the home, it helps these officials understand the need for home care. The people who we petition for increases and better regulations are the same elected officials you vote for, and who are entrusted with serving the best interests of those they represent. This is at the heart of how and why people gathering and joining voices can make a difference. This is the heart of client advocacy.

How can you get involved?

Think about your personal experiences and consider what it’s like to care for a loved one who is in your home or nearby. Let’s unlock those firsthand experiences about the difference a home care nurse, aide, or therapist makes in the care that your loved one needs or receives. Voices of families coming together can create opportunities. Better insurance reimbursement can help us recruit more nurses and aides to fill open shifts. Better wages can mean a more sustainable career for home care workers, which in turn allows more people to remain at home while they receive the care they need.

For more information about how you can join the movement for a better tomorrow for home care, visit our website and sign up to be a Heart for Home Care today.

Educating Legislators Key to Success in Both States

Curt Knott, Chris Knott, Ali Knott, Kim Hill, Mandy Brady, Shannon Gahs, and Maggie Tracy met with Rep. Kevin Hensley to thank him for his support of home health care.

In both Delaware and Maryland, the legislature is keyed up to see a lot of change in both the leadership of key committees that debate our issues and the rank-and-file membership of those committees. BAYADA, together with our trade associations and other providers, has the potential to use this time of change to educate newly-elected and newly-promoted representatives about the complex and detailed issues within Medicaid reimbursement. The best way we can recruit these leaders to become Champions of Home Health Care is to show it to them in person!

What can You do?

  • Invite a legislator to your office.
    • Whether it is for a competency training, an awards ceremony, a community or recruiting event, legislators will understand our complex issues better when they are exposed to it more. Invite them for a lunchtime Town Hall meeting with your office staff, to talk about the issues that affect your work, or ask them to present your next Heroes Award!
  • Invite a legislator on a Home Visit.
    • Legislators are happy to meet the people they represent and seeing our clients is sometimes the best way to explain how important home care is to their lives.
  • Invite candidates or recently-elected legislators to sit in on training.
    • Whether nurses are gaining new skills or are brushing up on existing ones, showing legislators how much effort we put into training and ensuring the skills of our nurses goes a long way toward helping them understand that home health care encompasses a myriad of different specialties.
  • Join a Political Action Committee (PAC).
    • It’s an election year and running for office is expensive. Candidate committees need contributions to purchase yard signs, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and to mail post cards to voters. Through our PACs, BAYADA supports those legislators who understand our issues and support our clients and employees with good home health care policy in their bids for re-election! Join the PAC easily today.

These interactions make a huge difference.  A legislator in Delaware, someone who has been a supporter of BAYADA for a long time, told us this year that she wants to know more about our day-to-day. She said other groups who are asking for increases in the state budget call her weekly. She and her associates want to hear about new issues, training, community events, staff meetings, awards and current events in our world.  Being up to date will help her advocate better for our clients and employees in private negotiations!

 

Shannon and Maggie are here to help!  If you are interested in helping to educate a legislator but need some support in planning or preparing for it, contact us.

A Season of Advocacy

Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors at the State Capitol

Over the past six months, GAO and our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors have been busy advocating on behalf of BAYADA’s clients and employees. Here is a brief look at our advocacy efforts in 2018 so far:

-19 Hearts for Home Ambassadors met with over 60 NJ legislators during our 2nd Annual New Jersey Advocacy Week.

-25 Ambassadors attended the Assembly vote to advocate for the Parking Accessibility Bill

-All NJ ACSP offices participated in a letter writing campaign to the Governor’s Office. Thank you to the many clients and aides who advocated for themselves, and to the directors for facilitating this campaign!

-8,600 emails were sent to key legislators and to the Governor’s Office urging them to support our PCA Budget Resolution. Thank you to all office and field employees who took action!

If you are interested in becoming a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, please contact Mike Sokoloski.

Advocate Spotlight: Mark Steidl acts as a voice for those without one–through his Dynavox communication device

Relying on a communication device to speak does not stop Mark from being a fierce advocate for disability rights and for the many individuals across the US that, like him, rely on in-home caregivers.

Pictured: Disability rights advocate Mark Steidl (center) joins the Pennsylvania Homecare Association's Advocacy Day in Harrisburg to tell legislators about what home care means to him. He is pictured here with BAYADA Home Health Care Associate Kimberly Gardner (left) and CEO David Baiada (right).
Pictured: Disability rights advocate Mark Steidl (center) joins the Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s Advocacy Day in Harrisburg to tell legislators about what home care means to him. He is pictured here with BAYADA Home Health Care Associate Kimberly Gardner (left) and CEO David Baiada (right).

 

On May 22, Mark Steidl and his mother Tina joined hundreds of Hearts for Home Care advocates in Harrisburg, PA to express to legislators the importance of home care and of its impact on the thousands of Pennsylvanians that are able to remain safely at home with their families due to in-home services.

Harrisburg isn’t Mark’s first time joining with others to advocate for better policies. In addition to his participation in the Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s (PHA) Advocacy Day, Mark currently actively advocates on behalf of the National Council on Independent Living and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s “21 and Able project.

Not only is Mark an advocate, but his goal is to complete his Associate’s Degree in Social Work coursework, go on to obtain his bachelor’s degree, and eventually serve in a case management position so that he can continue to help others with disabilities. Mark, who is 23 and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, uses a Dynavox to communicate. Mark operates the device by using the switches that are affixed to his wheelchair at either side of his head. The Dynavox allows Mark to type out what he wants to say, and then the device’s speakers enable Mark to communicate out loud.

During their time in the state capitol, Mark and his mother met with Senator Jay Costa, Representative Paul Costa, and Representative Ed Gainey, who represents Mark’s district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. To prepare for the day, Mark used his Dynavox to create a message that he would share with each legislator. Mark found it important to not only advocate for himself, but for his caregivers. In addition to advocating for three key issues that PHA outlined as legislative priorities for the home care industry in Pennsylvania, Mark’s speech included the following:

At home and in the community, I have personal care assistants who help me with various physical things. These assistants are very important to me, as they are to any person who needs one-on-one help, whether people with disability or older people. These aides enable us to live at home and avoid having to go to nursing homes.

“I am advocating today on behalf of home care providers who make it possible for us to have high-quality homecare services… When I think of my priorities as an individual with a disability, my first priority is my health and how it affects my life. But helping people maintain good health should also a priority for society.

I am pleased to be here today because you make decisions that affect people with disabilities and older adults. You have the power to create positive change and to enable people to live good lives!”

When Hearts for Home Care asked Mark to tell us why he advocates, Mark used his Dynavox to tell us:

“I consider myself an advocate for myself and for other people with disabilities. My disability is visible, and many people are likely to underestimate me and not see the person that I am. I have to challenge society’s perception each and every day.

I have to tell people when I first meet them why I use a wheelchair and communication device to talk. I have to explain cerebral palsy. People often wonder how I do school work without the use of my hands, so I have to explain that also.

All of us with disabilities have abilities and accomplishments, but we have to advocate for ourselves in order to create our place in the world.

The efforts of many dynamic leaders, innovators and activists affect our lives every day. The things I do every day would have been impossible 30 or 40 years ago. Before the changes in education laws that occurred in the 1970s, I would have been considered too disabled to attend public school, let alone Community College of Allegheny County. Thirty years ago – before the advent of electronic communication devices, I would not have been able to communicate with you. If I had been born in 1965 instead of 1995, my parents might have been told to send me to an institution instead of raising me at home with all the support I need. Times have really changed. Advocacy and new ways of thinking have created those changes.

But much more needs to be done and much more can be done. We have to keep advocating for the changes and the opportunities we want.”

Mark is an inspiration to many of his peers, and to many who understand the importance of sharing their voice on behalf of others. For ways you can advocate for yourself, your loved ones, and your community at-large, please email advocacy@bayada.com

 

 

South Carolina Representative Garry Smith Visits Local Family to Learn How Home Care Impacts his Constituents

Rep. Garry Smith (left) visits home health care client Emma (held), mom Gina (right) and their in-home BAYDA nurse Danielle (second from left).
Rep. Garry Smith (left) visits home health care client Emma (held), mom Gina (right) and their in-home BAYDA nurse Danielle (second from left).

 

South Carolina State Representative Garry Smith (R, District 27) visited a local family in his district to learn how his constituents and many South Carolinian families rely on home care to keep their loved ones together at home and out of more expensive settings. Rep. Smith is one of the many legislators that Hearts for Home Care advocates bring into home care clients’ homes to show them how federal, state, and local policies affect home care recipients and their families.

During his visit, Rep. Smith met 21-month old BAYADA Home Health Care client Emma Ferguson, Emma’s mother Gina, and Emma’s in-home BAYADA Nurse Danielle Rian. Emma was born with a Chronic Lung Disease of Prematurity, which causes Emma to experience severe breathing problems, pain, and other symptoms. At her young age, Emma has already had several surgeries and currently still requires use of a Gastrostomy-Jejunostomy (G-J) Tube to assist with her feedings and medication management throughout the day. At birth, state Medicaid authorized Emma to receive private duty nursing (PDN) services in her home so that Emma can remain safely and comfortably at home with her mother.

In March, Emma’s PDN services were terminated when Medicaid determined that her skill level no longer qualified her to receive care in her home. From March until May, Emma attended a local day care facility for children with complex needs so that her mother could continue to work. During this time, Emma was hospitalized on several occasions and required ventilator support due to respiratory illness. In May 2018, Emma’s mother Gina reapplied for PDN services, and Emma was able to start receiving care at home again. Emma currently receives 32 hours of PDN services in her home, and since the reauthorization, she has not been readmitted to the hospital.

Emma’s mother Gina stated, “I’m grateful Rep. Smith was able to visit our home to see how Emma and other medically-complex children can grow up and thrive with in-home nursing. These kids deserve some normalcy in their lives, and I have seen first-hand how much better she does when she can be with me at home rather than in an institution. She only receives 32 hours a week, and this allows her to receive the care she needs in the best place–her home–and allows me to be able to work to support my family.”

After the home visit, Rep. Smith said, “visiting sweet Emma and her family has opened my eyes to what home care means to my constituents and to the many South Carolinians who depend on Medicaid home care to stay with their families and out of higher-cost settings. I look forward to exploring ways we can help keep families together while at the same time effectively managing the state’s budget.”

“One-on-one nursing services have allowed Emma to remain safely at home under the Medically Fragile Children’s Medicaid Nursing Waiver. This program is an alternative to nursing home placement at a lower cost to the state,” said Melissa Allman, Hearts for Home Care advocate and Director of Government Affairs for BAYADA. “In-home nursing care helps minimize deterioration and can prevent costly hospitalizations as staff can address subtle changes in the medical condition before it becomes serious. I hope that more legislators continue to learn about how cost-effective these services are to the state, and how valuable they are in keeping South Carolinian families together.”

Home visits like this one really give elected officials a better understanding of how their decisions on key issues like Medicaid impact real people who are seeking to remain safely at home with their families. To find out ways in which you can participate in a home visit with a local legislator, or other ways you can advocate, email advocacy@bayada.com.

The Power of Advocacy: Remembering Katie Beckett, March 9, 1978-May 18, 2012

Katie Beckett’s parents advocated for better home care regulations, resulting in the creation of the Katie Beckett Waiver. 
President Ronald Reagan meets Katie Beckett, along with her parents, Julia and Mark Beckett, on the tarmac of Cedar Rapids Municipal Airport on September 20, 1984

 

Today, May 18, marks the sixth anniversary of Katie Beckett’s death. Katie, namesake of the well-known Katie Beckett waiver, was able to live at home due to her parents’ commitment to advocating for better home care policies.

Former secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius called Katie “an inadvertent pioneer in the civil rights movement for people with disabilities” and the inspiration for regulations that have allowed more than 500,000 disabled children to live at home since 1981.

Four months after her birth in 1978, Katie contracted viral encephalitis, leaving her partly paralyzed and with lifelong respiratory difficulties. Her parents, who wanted desperately for Katie to live as normal of a life as possible at home, found themselves in bureaucratic limbo. Katie qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but if she had been taken home, her parents’ incomes would have caused her to lose that eligibility. Yet her hospital care was topping $12,000 a month—six times the cost of home care.

At a news conference in November of 1981, then-President Ronald Regan cited Katie’s case as an example of federal regulations that, though more expensive for taxpayers, force Katie and other medically complex children to stay in institutional settings even though she could be cared for effectively at home.

At the time of the conference, Katie was 3 years old and had been hospitalized since almost birth. The day following the news conference, then-secretary of health and human services Richard S. Schweiker waived federal rules to allow Katie to return home without the loss of federal support.

Secretary Schweiker also created a review board to handle similar cases.  Seibelius said that “thanks to her mother, Julie’s, tireless advocacy…Medicaid policy fundamentally shifted” toward supporting home health care.

Home care worked for Katie, and for many others like her that thrive in a home environment surrounded by family and in-home caregivers that give her the proper amount of support. Despite needing nursing care five times a week and 12 hours a day on a ventilator, Katie graduated from Mount Mercy University in 2001 with a degree in English and creative writing. She also held several jobs over the years, including one as a secretary in a homeless shelter. At the time of her death, Katie was 34 years old—more than three times the age her doctors had predicted she would reach.

The Becketts’ advocacy not only allowed Katie to live a safe home life with comfort and dignity, but resonated around the country. The lasting effects of their commitment to their daughter’s well being have allowed for hundreds of thousands of disabled children to come home from the hospital. BAYADA Manager of Client and Family Advocacy Tara Montague is fortunate to raise her medically complex daughter, Mary, at home due to the Katie Beckett waiver, which is called the Community Care Waiver in her home state of New Jersey.

Tara says, “I am forever grateful to Katie Beckett and her parents. Because of their advocacy, my husband and I were able to bring our daughter home after two months in the NICU, and with home care, she’s been able to remain home with us for the past 20 years.”

If you are hesitant about sharing your voice and advocating for better home care policies, please think of Katie, her family, and their work, which has had a lasting effect across the United States. To get involved, please email advocacy@bayada.com today.

Rest in Peace Katie, your legacy lives on.  – March 9, 1978-May 18, 2012.

20×2020- An Advocacy Goal

What counts as advocacy? Advocacy is any message, big or small, delivered to state or federal decision makers to express the importance of home care.

This means that as an employee, you could advocate by sending an email or a letter to a legislator, sharing a story about home care on social media, attending your state’s lobby day, or helping a client advocate.

We have seen many times over how these messages add up to bring positive change to our staff’s and clients’ lives. During this year’s Ambassador of the Year Awards, US Senator Debbie Stabenow talked to attendees about how our email campaign in which BAYADA employees sent over 138,000 messages to our federal legislators, stopped Congress’s attempt to cut Medicaid funding. All of your advocacy activities add to our collective message that home care is important and should be prioritized when the government makes public policy decisions.

Don’t be afraid to share your voice to make positive changes for a better and stronger home care industry. To learn more about how you can be involved in advocacy and be part of that 20 percent, please contact me, Rick Hynick, at rhynick@bayada.com.

20×2020 – An Advocacy Goal

What counts as advocacy? Advocacy is any message, big or small, delivered to state or federal decision makers to express the importance of home care.

This means that as an employee, you could advocate by sending an email or a letter to a legislator, sharing a story about home care on social media, attending your state’s lobby day, or helping a client advocate.

We have seen many times over how these messages add up to bring positive change to our staff’s and clients’ lives. During this year’s Ambassador of the Year Awards, US Senator Debbie Stabenow talked to attendees about how our email campaign in which BAYADA employees sent over 138,000 messages to our federal legislators, stopped Congress’s attempt to cut Medicaid funding. All of your advocacy activities add to our collective message that home care is important and should be prioritized when the government makes public policy decisions.

Don’t be afraid to share your voice to make positive changes for a better and stronger home care industry. To learn more about how you can be involved in advocacy and be part of that 20 percent, please contact me, Rick Hynick, at rhynick@bayada.com.

Advocate Spotlight: Joe Davis

‌Joe Davis (Left) with Senator Corman

Joe Davis has been the director of BAYADA’s State College (STC) pediatric office for the past six years.  In addition to the many responsibilities that come with running a busy service office, Joe always takes time to advocate on behalf of his staff and clients.

As his office’s Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, part of his role is to inform state legislators about BAYADA and the home care industry and to educate them about our legislative priorities. Joe has hosted state Representative Kerry Benninghoff in the STC office to discuss the importance of home care within Rep. Benninghoff’s district and throughout the state. He also recently met with state Senator Jake Corman to advocate for deemed eligibility and a rate increase. Joe hopes to someday serve on a government-appointed committee to represent home care.

Thank you, Joe, for all your advocacy efforts. Your hard work on behalf of your staff and clients serve to create a better tomorrow for all of BAYADA’s staff and the many clients and families we serve.