Personal Care Assistant Fee-for-Service Rate Increased in NJ State Budget

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

On July 3, Governor Christie signed the NJ budget which contains a budget resolution to increase the Personal Care Assistant rate under fee-for-service. I am happy to inform you the NJ PCA fee-for-service rate is now $19.00 per hour. The new rate is effective as of July 1, 2017.
This is largely due to the support of BAYADA leadership, the directors and their office staff, and our wonderful Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who made legislative office visits, held legislative roundtables, and offered home visits advocating for our clients and families. Great advocacy efforts by all!

Reporting Success with Help from our Hearts for Home Care Advocates

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

With active engagement from our Ambassadors and other Hearts for Home Care advocates, together we accomplished the following legislative wins:

·         Obtained an Aide Rate Increase                                  
Lawmakers passed a rate increase for aides services in two (2) Medicaid program – Personal Care Services (PCS) and the Community Alternatives Program for Children (CAP-C) – taking the rate from $13.88 to $15.52, effective July 1, 2017, and to $15.60, effective January 1, 2018.  Due to a technical issue around budget neutrality, an increase was not passed for CAP for disabled adults (CAP-DA). However, we have the commitment of both the General Assembly as well as the Department to institute a fix in the 2018 session.     
Provision successfully passed the General Assembly
·         Protected Certificate of Need (CON) Once Again
There were as many as four bills introduced, but not passed, related to CON to either eliminate or modify CON law. As any change to remove or minimize CON law will negatively impact our existing Medicare offices, GAO will continue to work collaboratively with other health care settings behind-the-scenes to prevent the erosion of CON. Educating lawmakers on its implications is key.  
Provision successfully excluded
·         ID/DD Individuals to Access Services
A budget provision added some 400 slots to the Innovations Waiver program. Originally the provision included 250 slots. After lobbying, discussion, and debate that number was increased. While it won’t completely address the 900 individuals on the waiting list, these additional slots will help our HAB practice provide services to individuals in need.    
Provision successfully passed the General Assembly
·         Medicaid Reform Remains In Play
GAO was invited to a meeting with Secretary Mandy Cohen and Medicaid Director Dave Richard to discuss their plans to align mental health and physical health more quickly than 3 years after transition to managed care. In the development of this new waiver, they intend to include stakeholders as well as other protections. 
Bill is eligible to be taken up during a Special Session

Become a “Social” Hearts for Home Care Advocate!

Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy (GAO)

The mission of the Government Affairs Office (GAO) is to act as a voice for our clients, their families, and our employees through education, advocacy, service and research on a full time basis.  At BAYADA, we also have a thriving ambassador program to develop and foster relationships with local legislators through district and home visits, and by keeping office staff informed of key legislative issues.  

However, anyone at BAYADA can actively participate through our social avenues on Facebook and Twitter by sharing our messages of advocacy with friends and family.

For the links and more ways to be involved, visit our website: heartsforhomecare.com or email me at msokoloski@bayada.com.

 

Successful NJ Client Visit with Assemblyman Troy Singleton

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ (GAO)

On May 26, Mount Laurel Pediatrics (MLP) client Crista Jackson met Assemblyman Troy Singleton at the door and invited him in for a visit. The assemblyman, from the 7th District, came to the home of Crista’s mom, Jenn Asson, in Willingboro to hear more about her life as the mother to a child with significant medical needs. Crista, age 3, was all smiles for the assemblyman as her mother and her nurse, Denise Wills, looked on. “She’s a tough little kid,” the assemblyman told Crista’s mom.

In addition to Assemblyman Singleton, Crista also had visitors from the Burlington County Times, who was documenting the visit for an article.

Thanks to Hearts for Home Care Ambassador and MLP Social Media Associate Brooke Fitzpatrick, who helped to arrange everything with Crista’s family for the visit to take place.

Successful Storytelling at the North Carolina Legislative Day

Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Grassroots Advocacy Manager, GAO

​On Wednesday, May 17, more than 60 BAYADA employees and one client arrived in their red attire to advocate to the North Carolina legislature, effectively communicating the importance of home care through storytelling to more than 110 legislators! We gathered on the red carpeted steps of the General Assembly to honor our Legislator of the Year, Senator Tommy Tucker. He has been a steadfast supporter of home care. Last year, he inserted language to increase the nursing rate by 10% for medically fragile children.

Click here to access our Hearts for Home Care Advocacy photo album on Facebook. >>
“While the medical condition of your clients puts them at high risk for hospitalization and placement in nursing homes, they deserve to stay at home, and they can with support of home nursing,” said Sen. Tucker. “The work that you do helps North Carolinians have a better quality of life, and saves the state tremendous amounts of money. We absolutely need to invest in these services.”

Speaking to the vital importance of advocacy, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro said, “We must continue to recruit new voices to create the movement necessary to protect and retain benefits critical to the care of our clients. BAYADA has always led the way and we will continue to do so.”

I had the privilege of being joined by a new BAYADA employee, Gastonia, NC Pediatrics (GP) Client Services Manager Foster Krebs. He made an immediate connection with Sen. John Alexander with a story about a client family’s struggle, noting that we cannot retain field staff on one of his pediatric cases.

 

“After the first visit with Representative Hurley,” said Foster, “I was less anxious and felt more comfortable. In fact, once I realized my story resonated with lawmakers, I was able to enjoy myself.”

Keeping this engagement with legislators throughout the year is vital as well. Legislative Day is just a start to the numerous district visits, town halls, and home visits to come in 2017.

“I’m so proud of our staff,” said Area Director of Government Affairs Lee Dobson. “It was clear they had powerful stories to tell and were telling them. Their enthusiasm was contagious and in true BAYADA fashion, our smiles were seen and felt.”

We were there to seek an increase to the Medicaid aide rate from $13.88 to $17.00, over two years, and to communicate how one-on-one in-home aide services can help reduce health care expenditures by minimizing costs associated with falls, ER visits, and re-hospitalizations, and prevent or delay institutionalization while preserving quality of life. Home care also creates jobs in the community and allows families to continue to work, while being a cost-savings to the state.

This was understood by Senator Andrew Brock, who said, “I understand why you are asking for the increase. You won’t find the people to do the work at what you’re able to pay. This is a worthwhile allocation.”

A special thanks to Raleigh, NC Adult Nursing (RAN) Transitional Care Manager Paulette Troy for being the Legislative Nurse of the Day. For her volunteerism, she was recognized in both the House and Senate chambers, who said, “It was a privilege to represent BAYADA.”

Advocacy is an important role in the political process. We appreciate our advocates for making the time to be the voice for our staff and clients by sharing our stories. The General Assembly was a sea of BAYADA red. Thank you!

Maryland Ambassadors Teach Legislators About Home Health Care Through Visits

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

Hearts for Home Care ambassadors have been active recently, building relationships with legislators in the “interim,” while the legislature is out of session.  Director of BAL Matt Paske and I have met with Delegate Jay Jalisi, Delegate Antonio Hayes, and Delegate Ben Brooks in their offices.  Director of HFV Michele Heasley, the HFV staff and I introduced Senator Bob Cassilly’s aide to the daughter of a client in their office.  Speaking with legislators when they have more time available allows for more in-depth conversations that help legislators understand home health care and become champions on the issues that matter to our clients and employees.

Union County NJ Family Uplifted After Visit From Assemblyman Holley

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ (GAO)

Through the efforts of Hearts for Homecare Ambassador and Director Miriam Mercado, State Assemblyman Jamel Holley  made a visit to the home of Tony Ufie, a client of the Union county office.  Assemblyman Holley was very moved by the client’s story and the many issues his family has been plagued with since the onset of his illness.  He was so touched, he has committed to assisting the client and his family in any way possible.  By the end of the visit, Assemblyman Holley asked Miriam to send him the details of everything that was discussed so that he can address each concern accordingly.  He also mentioned that he wanted to highlight the work that we do on his social media accounts.  Assemblyman Holley’s sincerity was palpable.  The family is very grateful and seemed hopeful that things were going to finally start looking up for them.

Photo (left to right): Asm. Jamel Holley, Mrs. Ruby (client’s mom and primary caregiver), Ponchita Dickerson (HHA), Sally Ufie (client’s wife), Marilyn Lopina, RN (CM), Miriam Mercado (Director)

NJ GAO Advocacy Week Ambassador Experience

Submitted by Allison Nulton, Associate (TRP)

​During BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) NJ Advocacy Week, I was excited to embark on my first experience as a BAYADA Ambassador.

On Tuesday, May 2, GAO Community Liaison Tara Montague, Toms River, NJ (TR) assistive care state programs Client Services Manager Rebecca Capuano, and I met with Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove from District 9. We had the opportunity to advocate for the clients we serve and ask the legislators to support raising the rate floor for NJ’s personal care assistant program in Managed Medicaid to the state’s fee-for-service rate.

We also asked them to support a $10-an-hour fee-for-service increase in private duty nursing. Both Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove were very receptive to the stories we shared about our clients and the challenges they face daily, and were open to having a round-table discussion in the future.

I also met with Senator Thompson from District 12 on Friday, May 5 to discuss the issues we face in the home care setting.  Senator Thompson, GAO Director Louise Lindenmeier, and I discussed a variety of issues that impact home care. We invited Senator Thompson for a home visit in the near future. We hope to schedule one soon!

I am excited for future visits to advocate for our clients, families, and field staff and to raise awareness about the support that is needed to continue providing excellent home care The BAYADA Way.

South Carolina Legislative Day a Success

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

Small and Mighty

Last month South Carolina joined the ranks of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania by hosting its first annual lobby day. All participants dressed in BAYADA red, and our smiles were seen and felt as our eight BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors spread our common message—home care keeps families together, and creates jobs in the community while saving the state money.

“I was thrilled to join our small-but-strong BAYADA team in Columbia, SC as we continue to build our fledgling advocacy program,” said Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro. “It is exciting to see the enthusiasm from our SC team as they advocate for our clients and staff, and the very positive reception we got from the legislators and their teams. I am very optimistic about our future in SC.”

During the one-day event, our delegation reached 30 lawmakers, including key house and senate leaders who oversee the Medicaid programs. Medicaid rates are one of the lowest in the nation, and making a connection with members is a great start to resolving that.

Division Director Melissa Allman understands the important role advocacy plays in the political process. She shared, “Building our brand goes hand-in-hand with building relationships with lawmakers. They are responsible for the rates.”

Our advocacy day was a great first step in garnering support for home care. Our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors plan to schedule home and district visits with members over the summer to keep the momentum of our outreach efforts going.

 

Quotes from attendees:

  • Associate Director Nicole Lugo: “Making a personal connection with a lawmaker is simpler than you think. They are people too.”
  • Associate Director Stephanie Black: “This was my first experience and I loved it! I’m convinced the more they know us, the more they’ll see the impact on families, the more they’ll invest in home care.”
  • Associate Director Amy Ramey: “Every senator and representative I spoke with had a story about a family member or friend who has received or is in need of services. I was honored to be a voice for our clients.”
  • Associate Director Cari Altom: “I was impressed that members actually left session to come speak with us in the lobby. Glad I came.”

Government Affairs Maryland Office Tour Shares Information and Finds Outpouring of Interest

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

Last week, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, the newest member of the Government Affairs Team Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski, and I went on a tour of every service office in the state.  We discussed current events in federal and state politics and shared how BAYADA has impacted policy decisions while getting to know the dedicated employees we have across the state.  We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and interest employees had in getting involved as ambassadors.  For more information on advocating for our clients and employees, reach out to Mike or me!