PA Budget Record: First Early Budget in Over Four Years!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time in over four years, the Pennsylvania General Assembly completed the FY 2018-2019 budget ahead of the constitutionally mandated June 30 deadline.

During our Advocacy Day in Harrisburg, House Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor announced he was working to get us an increase in personal assistant services (PAS) provided under the Office of Long-Term Living. This was Pennsylvania’s primary legislative priority for BAYADA in 2018.

After this announcement the Government Affairs Office (GAO), home care advocates, and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) worked at breakneck speeds to make it a reality. In the month leading up to the final budget we met with Chairman Saylor and staff several times, spoke with key leadership, and touched the entire legislature several times. Unfortunately, the legislature passed, and the Governor signed, the FY 2018-2019 budget without this increase.

We have been working towards this increase since 2014 and we have made incredible progress. We will continue to ensure this remains top of legislators’ minds. This summer we will begin our work to ensure we receive a rate increase in next year’s budget.

Thank you for your support, and for the time that you took participating in our efforts, whether it was by emailing legislators through our action alert, which generated over 430 emails to legislators, or through your attendance at PHA’s Advocacy Day in Harrisburg. All of these efforts showed legislators just how widespread and important this issue is, and we have heard directly from many who told us how impactful our efforts continue to be.

Approved State Budget Includes Reimbursement Rate Requirement

The New Jersey state legislature avoided a government shutdown when Governor Murphy signed the proposed budget into law late Sunday, July 1. The approved budget sets the state fee-for-service rate at $19.00 per hour and establishes a rate floor, which requires MCOs to reimburse home health care providers at no less than $16.00 an hour for personal care services.

GAO is continuing to work closely with legislators to further clarify the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) increase, which passed last year (A320). This clarification will address the direct and indirect costs that were overlooked by Governor Christie’s conditional veto last session. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to advocacy@bayada.com.

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.

Capital Day in Trenton, NJ

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

On June 15, 25 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors met in Trenton for a Town Hall meeting hosted by our lobby group, Capital Impact Group. Chief Government Affairs Officer David Totaro and lobbyists Gene Mulroy and Paul Crupi discussed the upcoming election, budget, and what we will see in the next administration. Dave addressed what is happening in Washington with health care changes and possible impacts on our state. After a quick lunch, the group toured the State House, where they were able to meet legislators in the halls and gain an overview of the State House history. Everyone enjoyed the day.

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!

NC Long Legislative Session Gaveled Out

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

Last week Speaker Tim Moore and President Pro Tempore Phil Berger ended the long legislative session after passing, along party lines, North Carolina’s 23 billion dollar budget. The budget contained a few provisions we asked for, but not everything. The budget was sent to Governor Roy Cooper for signature. As expected, the budget was vetoed and must be sent back to the General Assembly. Lawmakers plan to return in August where the Republican-majority has sufficient votes to override the veto. It is reported the General Assembly will reconvene for as many as three Special Sessions this year – on August 3rd to address any bills vetoed by Governor Cooper, and on September 6th and November 15th to address redistricting, as the US Supreme Court ruled that our current NC House and Senate maps unconstitutionally disenfranchised African American voters.

While members are back in their districts our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors will be reaching out to schedule home visits and hosts legislative round table with their offices.   Watch for ways to get involved.

North Carolina Budget Released

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

On June 19, lawmakers released a $23 billion budget for 2017-2019. Below are some of the provisions impacting us:

  • Increased Personal Care Services Rate: This provision increases the Medicaid rate for aide services under the Personal Care Services (PCS) program and the Community Alternatives Program for Children (CAP-C). The rate will increase from $13.88 to $15.50 (July 1, 2017) and $15.60 (January 1, 2018) pending approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Much to our disappointment, CAP-DA was left out of the budget. A technical issue made it difficult to increase the CAP-DA rate within the established budget neutrality requirement. A rate increase would have meant fewer authorized hours for clients to stay within overall program requirements. BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office continues to work on a solution.
  • Protected the certificate of need (CON) for home health care from being eliminated.
  • Expanded Innovations Waiver slots: This provision added 400 additional Innovations Waiver slots across the state.

Delaware Joint Finance Committee Begins Budget Debate

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

After months of hearing from state departments and constituents about the issues that matter to them, the 12-member Joint Finance Committee begins debate, called “markup,” over the state budget.  Governor John Carney’s proposed budget announced earlier this year balanced on a $200M increase in tax revenue and $200M in cuts to state programs.  The legislature is discussing a plan that would increase taxes by $100M, requiring more cuts to balance.

MassHealth Announces Second Rate Increase In The Face Of Budget Deficit

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

Last week, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, Boston Pediatrics Director Emery Hughes, and other industry leaders and families gathered together to meet with MassHealth.  MassHealth had asked for the meeting, in regards to the Continuous Skilled Nursing (CSN) program.  During the meeting, MassHealth stated that they recognized that low reimbursement rates were a major problem within the program.  They have planned to increase the rates by 2.25% effective July 1, 2017.  This is the second reimbursement increase we have been notified about within three months.  The organizations working to increase this rate were pleased with this movement but recognized that this is a fraction of what is needed to stabilize the rates.  We look forward to continuing our efforts to increase the CSN rates by a total of $15 per hour.

Maryland’s 2017 Legislative Session Now Closed

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

Wrapping up on April 10, the General Assembly considered 2,876 bills and resolutions over the 90-day session.  Of those, 940 bills and resolutions passed.   I am preparing a full session report but, of note, the bill containing our offices’ ability to accept orders from physicians in neighboring states passed and will become law as soon as Governor Larry Hogan signs it.  The budget passed nearly two weeks before it was due, including a 2% increase in Medicaid home health care reimbursement rate.  A bill mandating paid sick leave statewide passed but is expected to be vetoed.  Finally, three separate efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 – statewide, in Baltimore City, and in Montgomery County – all failed.  Now the work to prepare for next session begins.