NJ Personal Care Assistant Legislation A320/S1018 Awaits Governor’s Signature

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

As we continue on our PCA journey for increased reimbursement rates, the next effort to increase the PCA reimbursement rate now sits on the governor’s desk. A320/S1018 would require the minimum reimbursement rate for PCA in managed Medicaid to be no lower than the state’s fee-for-service rate. Currently, we are asking all the PCA aides and clients to sign and send letters to the governor’s office, urging him to sign the legislation into law.

NJ Client Advocates for Our Aides

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

On May 26, as part of the Home Care Association’s Advocacy Day, our client, Victor Muniz, spoke during a press conference held by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. Victor, who receives personal care assistance through the Jersey City (JC) office, shared the importance of home health aides in his rehabilitation and his ability to live independently. In addition, William Chambers, father to Perth Amboy (PER) client Billy Chambers, spoke about how home health aides enable him to continue to care for his son at home, but there is a strong need for increases in reimbursement rates. He stressed that aides are simply not paid enough money for what they do.

Mr. Muniz was also interviewed by a reporter from NJ Spotlight about this issue.

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.

Realizing There are Differences

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

I recently met with a mother who has a teenage daughter suffering from a severe degenerative muscular condition. The mom wants people to realize that caregivers are extremely important to a person with special medical needs. She explained that the average person can use a bathroom in a minute or two. Even with a caregiver, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for her daughter to use the bathroom, with the maneuvering of her wheelchair in the tight layout of a bathroom and just trying to safely get on and off of the wheelchair. The mom asks that we all slow down and think about the importance of the many daily tasks that we all need to undertake and support caregivers in every way possible.

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)

In PA, No Obstacle is Too Big

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

I was recently accompanying a mother and her  daughter who require home care services to the state Capitol to meet with elected officials about a rate increase, to help attract more nurses to home care as the mother/daughter team are in urgent need of help.  As we went from one meeting to another, I kept thinking about how much I admired the mother for her determination as she needed to push her daughter’s wheelchair everywhere we went.  As we neared the office location of our last meeting, we encountered a set of stairs and a wheelchair lift that was not functioning.  Instead of not attending the meeting, the mother accepted help from another person and we worked together to get the family beyond the obstacle and to the meeting where much success was encountered.

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!

Successful Meeting with Adult Managers of Clinical Operations in PA

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

Today, I had a meeting with the Adult Managers of Clinical Operations (MCOs) at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) office.  The meeting covered a full day agenda of topics such as new and changed practices, education on products, shared practices that have been effective and a section on quality.  I presented an overview of the Client and Family Advocacy program and the advantages that service offices might see when being involved with the program.  I also presented the many different ways that clients and family members of clients, such as adult children of waiver clients, can be involved in advocacy and take steps to help achieve goals such as rate increases and improvements to regulatory policy.