Sick Leave Becomes Law in Override of Maryland Governor Hogan Veto

At the end of the 2017 session, the Maryland General Assembly voted in favor of a statewide sick leave law. It was the sixth consecutive year that the bill was introduced.

The measure was fiercely debated and amended several times. The final version mandates that employees who work more than 12 hours in an average week earn paid sick leave at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours per year. The sick leave may be used for the employee’s own sickness or that of a family member, to obtain preventative health care or to prevent domestic violence or stalking.

Following the 2017 session, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the legislation, calling it bad for Maryland businesses. The legislature overrode the veto on the second day of session this year, January 11. It will go into effect 30 days after the override vote, pending a new bill introduced this week that would delay implementation. POL has been notified of the change and will issue guidance on how this will impact BAYADA offices.

If you have any questions about what’s going on in Maryland’s state capitol, let’s chat! Email me at sgahs@bayada.com.

NJ GAO 2017 Year in Review

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.

Federal Legislators from Maryland Hear from Community Leaders and Constituents on Medicaid

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

On November 16, I met with Congressman “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD2) and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) at a community event about access to Medicaid, which was the same day that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes major provisions affecting Medicaid eligibility and tax issues that will impact our employees.  It is important that our federal legislators see home health care for the good work we do in their districts, as they make decisions that impact how we are able to practice.  The Senate will debate this bill in coming weeks.

 

NJ Personal Care Assistant Floor Bill Finally Signed into Law!

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

Governor Chris Christie, signed into law A320/S1080, which sets the Medicaid managed care rate at no lower than the state’s fee for service rate for personal care services.  The Governor had conditionally vetoed the original bill in July, adding stipulations in regards to funding, wage mandates, and an effective date.  With the new stipulations as law, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) will be working with our lobbyist and bill sponsors to introduce a new bill to restructure the governor’s changes with new language, which we believe will be better for the industry and our home health aides.

 

Presumptive Eligibility Legislation Introduced in the House and Senate

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

The work of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Pennsylvania Health Law Project, and the Elder Law Attorneys has led to presumptive eligibility legislation being officially introduced in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. The bill numbers are S.912 and H.1829.  The legislation will allow individuals to be presumed financially eligible for home care services. This will greatly expedite the process and allow individuals to access the care they want when they want it. Since being introduced GAO has been working to obtain additional co-sponsors for both pieces of legislation. So far, we have 24 House sponsors and 16 Senate sponsors.

More work is still needed.  Please take a moment to email your state legislators and ask them to support the legislation.

Click here to tell your legislators to support equalized access to home and community based services.

See the full list of sponsors here:

 

 

 

 

PA Legislators: Co-sponsor Presumptive Eligibility

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

Recently, Senator Michele Brooks and Representative Aaron Berstine have circulated co-sponsor memos for legislation they are introducing.  The legislation allows individuals to be presumed eligible for home health care; a practice commonly known as “presumptive eligibility”.  This bill will help to increase access to care for potential and current BAYADA clients who don’t want to wait for their full applications to be processed before receiving care at home.  Specifically, the bill allows home health care agencies to presume that a client will be eligible for Medicaid and to start providing services while the full application is pending.  These clients need care as soon as possible, and this legislation will help give them that care.  The more support we can garner for this important legislation, the easier it will be to get the legislation passed.  I urge you to email your state legislators and encourage them to become co-sponsors of the presumptive eligibility bill by clicking here.

 

NJ Managed Medicaid Bill Receives a Conditional Veto

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

Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed A320/S1018, which sets a minimum managed care reimbursement rate for the Personal Care Assistant program at the state’s fee for service rate.  His veto addresses a wage pass through, budget funding for fiscal year 2019, removal of the Consumer Price Indices adjustment every 5 years and included an audit process for the increase in reimbursement.   On July 31, the bill went back to the Assembly where it received unanimous support by the legislature.  The Senate will vote on the bill when they reconvene for it to become law. The Government Affairs Office (GAO) will work with the industry on how to address the new stipulations within the bill.

Healthcare Havoc: Senate Showdown Kills Obamacare Replacement

Submitted by Conner Sheets, Intern, Government Affairs (GAO)

If you’ve been following the news lately then you know that the efforts of Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare have been shut down; what you may not know is how we got to this point.

The recent argument in the Senate over healthcare began with the drafting of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (“BCRA”). The bill attracted controversy over the mystery of its creation and the large number of Americans that would go without care if the bill were to become law. When we heard that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell planned to bring the BCRA to a Senate vote, BAYADA Home Healthcare mobilized. Employees, clients, and families sent over 125,000 emails and placed over 600 phone calls to key Senators. In the end, McConnell decided he didn’t have the needed votes and we took a collective deep breath.

Unfortunately, the peace did not last long. The Senate voted to bring three pieces of legislation to the debate floor: an edited BCRA, a “repeal now, replace later” bill, and a “skinny repeal” that got rid of some parts of Obamacare without removing the legislation completely. Millions of clients currently receiving services under Medicaid would be harmed by any of these bills, so BAYADA wasted no time in mobilizing once again. Over the course of two-and-a-half days, BAYADA employees, clients, and supporters sent an astonishing 69,000 emails to key Senators! One by one, the three bills failed in the Senate.

There is no doubt that the incredible movement of BAYADA and our friends played a role in protecting Medicaid during this debacle. Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, the issue was simple – save the Medicaid program and the services that we know are crucial to the health and well-being of so many of our clients and caregivers. We’d like to thank each of every one of those who took action and helped protect the lives of Medicaid clients everywhere. Your efforts are making sure the government stays a government “by the people, for the people”.

Government Affairs Office Provides Regulatory Support in North Carolina

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

 

While lawmakers are out of session, work continues on the regulatory front with two initiatives: Medicaid Reform and Licensure Rules Rewrites.  First, Secretary Mandy Cohen has been hosting stakeholder meetings and making the rounds with lawmakers garnering support for her Medicaid Reform Bill.  The Department is attempting to align physical health and behavioral health services by creating Special Needs Plans.  BAYADA has been invited to work with Medicaid and other stakeholders on this matter.  We will ensure level of services and provider adequacy remains central in the program design and waiver application.  Second, the Division of Health Service Regulations (DHSR) has published for public comment their proposed changes to the Home Care Licensure Rules.  The Government Affairs Office (GAO) has convened a review team of BAYADA experts to draft our formal comments, due August 15.

On the advocacy front, our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors will commence their summer outreach efforts with lawmakers.

It’s In DE Governor John Carney’s Hands

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Director, DE Government Affairs (GAO)

The rate floor bill we’ve worked so hard on, now sits on Governor John Carney’s desk.  Many bills passed in the last days of session, at the end of June, each requiring his consideration before he signs them into law or vetoes them.  HB200, which sets a “rate floor” or minimum reimbursement rate for Registered Nurse (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) level nursing care equal to the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) fee for service rates, would help ensure home health care clients across the state have access to care.  We have sent him information about why this bill is so important to our clients and employees and we await his decision.  The bill becomes law and is effective upon his signature.