NC: Legislature Kicks Off 2019, Former Home Care Champion Nelson Dollar Joins Speaker’s Staff


Former Representative and home care Champion Nelson Dollar joins Speaker of the House Tim Moore’s staff as Senior Policy Advisor

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh on January 9 for the 2019-2021 long legislative session.  We expect to see some changes in committee assignments and leadership, especially in the House Appropriations for Health & Human Service (HHS), with the election defeat of Chairman Nelson Dollar.

Dollar–the former chairman of the House Appropriation Committee—has transitioned from the public sector to a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of the House Tim Moore. Dollar has been a home care champion for years and was named BAYADA’s Legislator of the Year in 2016 and 2018 for his efforts. He was instrumental in securing much needed Medicaid reimbursement rates increases for nursing and aide services. He has also been instrumental in protecting from elimination the Certificate of Need (CON) process for our Medicare offices.  His expertise and knowledge on complex issues at the statehouse will serve North Carolina well. As you may recall, Dollar lost his seat by 884 votes last November to Democrat Julie von Haefen.

While we are sad to see our former Champion lose this leadership position, there are other home care Champions that we anticipate seeing in key roles. We expect to see Representatives Donny Lambeth and Josh Dobson as co-chairs of HHS. Further, we anticipate Senators Ralph Hise and Joyce Krawiec in chair positions serving the Finance and/or Health Committees. All four legislators are well-versed in home care and the challenges our clients and staff regularly face throughout North Carolina due to our collective advocacy efforts. This puts BAYADA in a great position to move forward with our next round of asks.

Our major reimbursement priority this session is to increase the Medicaid private duty nursing (PDN) rate from $39.60 to $45.00 over the course of two years. This increase is necessary to help us recruit and retain the high quality, compassionate nurses we need to care for the many North Carolinians that need skilled care to stay at home.

Sharing your voice is key to achieving our goals: Be sure to look for opportunities to advocate as we seek to support our clients and staff. Of note, please save the date and be sure to look out for communications regarding our Legislative Day, which will be held in Raleigh on May 1.

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!

Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs Restructures Rates

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

The Deputy Secretary of the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) Nancy Thaler released a statement that she would establish one statewide rate for services and that all rates would go up.  This is a welcomed move as it also supports our legislative priority of establishing one statewide rate and increasing the personal assistant services rate to $20.58.  We plan to ensure our legislative champions know about this move in our upcoming meetings.

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.

BAYADA GAO Attends Event Honoring 2015 BAYADA Home Health Care Champion Bill Adolph

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

The Springfield Republicans hosted an event to thank Representative Adolph for his service this past St. Patrick’s Day.

Representative Bill Adolph served as the House Appropriations Chair and was a key legislator in helping us achieve a $5 per hour increase for pediatric shift nursing in Pennsylvania in 2016.

His tireless advocacy and perseverance helped ensure BAYADA will be able to recruit and retain the nurses needed to serve our pediatric population.

Unfortunately for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Representative Adolph retired from the legislature at the end of last year.

Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I had the opportunity to attend the evening and thank Representative Bill Adolph again for championing our rate increase.  The event was well-attended with over 200 local supporters, dignitaries, and elected officials. We also had the opportunity to see Senator Scott Wagner, who is also running for Governor, and Congressmen Pat Meehan.

 

Supporting Home Care at the Rhode Island State House

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director of Client and Family Advocacy

On Tuesday, April 11, a crowd of people gathered at the state room in the Rhode Island State House to thank those in our state government who support the many children, adults, and their families who rely on home care. The gathering was part of an event planned on behalf of BAYADA and the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care.

“We’re here today to thank those legislators who have listened to your conversations and heard your challenges, and have become steadfast supporters to make your lives and the lives of your children better,” said BAYADA Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro. Dave and other representatives from GAO partnered with Rhode Island Skilled (RIS) pediatrics Director Ashley Sadlier and her staff to make the event a success.

State Representative Gregg Amore was presented with a 2017 Legislative Advocacy Award for his tireless work to back the needs of his constituents and the many other residents of the state who use home care services on a daily basis. Senator Hannah Gallo was also recognized but could not be present. Additionally, Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mckee spoke about the important role home care plays in the lives of many Rhode Island residents.

Mr. Mckee and Rep. Amore continued to discuss the positive impact of home care, to the great interest of our clients and their families who were present in the audience. These families—the very people who rely on having nurses to provide clinical care to their loved ones—can offer firsthand testimony as to why home care is so vital.

Eric Olson—the father of client Liam and a long-time home care advocate—explained that the nurses who work with his son have such a connection with him. They understand that many of Liam’s movements are actually the way he communicates what kind of care he needs from moment to moment. He went on to explain that, without the close connection that the nurses have with his son, Liam would not be where he is today. With their help, he has thrived, despite his dependence on many mechanical devices. Eric went on to underscore how important it is that the families work with the elected officials, as they have the ability to make positive change.

“Our goal today was to bring enough of these voices together so we can start to make a difference.  Not just for families in this room, but for all families who want to keep their loved ones at home,” Dave said.  Side by side, BAYADA and the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care provide significant support to the goals of legislators and families who depend on home care. We are working together for a better tomorrow for all home care services in Rhode Island.

In Pennsylvania, Fundraising Season Abounds

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

Now that the PA House and Senate appropriations hearings have finished, the fundraising season for candidates has begun.  First, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I had the opportunity to thank Representative Bill Adolph for being our champion.  During the event, we had the opportunity to see Senator Scott Wagner, who is also running for Governor, and Congressmen Pat Meehan.  Next, I had the opportunity to speak with the new House Appropriations Chair Representative Stan Saylor.  We discussed the need for higher reimbursement rates if the state approves a minimum wage increase.  The events were rounded out by a visit with Senator Judy Schwank the Health and Human Services Minority Chair, Representative Donna Bullock, Aging and Youth Chair Senator Michele Brooks, and Representative Madeline Dean.

Supporting our Political Action Committees is an important part of the Government Affairs Office’s recipe for success.  Fundraisers provide additional opportunities to get to know legislators who make decisions about home health care.  It is also a way to ensure those that support home care get into and stay in office.

Making Progress On Equalizing Access To Home And Community-Based Services in PA

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

As a result of a legislative roundtable planned by 2015 Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski, Representative Aaron Kaufer became very interested in helping us equalize access to home and community-based services.  Since then, Representative Kaufer has arranged meetings with executive directors from various legislative committees and made the first attempt at legislation.  He also spoke with the chair of the Public Health Committee Representative Matt Baker.  Due to our consistent follow-up, Representative Baker has decided to take up our issue himself with the support of Representative Kaufer.  We are working with him to craft legislation and look forward to working with him throughout the legislative process.

Register for PA Lobby Day in Harrisburg

More Than 500 Volunteers For Hansen For Special Election in Delaware

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

In a special election, widely considered an indicator of the political climate following the presidential inauguration, Democrat Stephanie Hansen won in Senate District 10, 58%-42%, with a surprisingly large voter and volunteer turnout.  The seat was vacated by now Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long.  This victory keeps the chamber under a Democratic majority.  I met Senator-elect Hansen at an event in January.  While healthcare was not one of her core campaign issues, we have seen indicators that she could be a champion for home health care.