Government Affairs Delaware Office Tour

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

All of our Delaware service offices kindly opened their doors to Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy Mike Sokoloski, and me this week.  The Government Affairs Office (GAO) team was able to share current information about our state and federal advocacy efforts.  We had good conversations with office teams about what BAYADA’s official positions are and how office and field employees are getting more involved in advocacy for our clients.  Thank you all for such warm receptions!

Take Advantage of Summer Time in Delaware

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

Summer is the time to build coalitions, work behind the scenes and prepare for the future.  I am finalizing research and developing deeper relationships with key partners to set BAYADA up for future successes.  In the Government Affairs Office (GAO) generally, we are building plans to improve grassroots advocacy and make the most of the time you all volunteer.


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.


Delaware Rate Floor Bill Passes House Committee

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

Following compelling testimony by clients Nancy and Christopher Lemus, Delaware Association for Home and Community-based Care (DAHCC) President Bob Bird, Delaware Pediatrics (DP) Associate Director Mandy Brady, and myself, the House Health & Human Development Committee passed a bill that would set a minimum reimbursement rate paid by Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) to home health care providers for skilled nursing services.
Representatives asked probing questions, sparking true debate over the measure. The vote was 10-0 with 4 additional members absent. The bill must still pass the full House, the Senate Health, Children & Social Services Committee, and the full Senate. The legislature closes on June 30. If this bill passes, MCOs would not be able to pay any less than the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) pays for the same care, giving DHSS the ability to ensure access to needed services.

Nancy Lemus giving testimony at the hearing

Rate Floor Bill Introduced in Delaware

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

Following a concerted education effort and participation by many members of the home health care industry, HB200, which sets a “rate floor” for skilled nursing paid by Medicaid managed care, has been introduced. Nine members of the legislature have said that home health care matters to them, and are sponsoring the bill. Every home health care provider who answered an industry-wide survey said their number of unfilled hours has increased over last year. HB200 would go a long way toward ensuring access to skilled nursing for home health care clients across the state. If the bill becomes law, managed care organizations would not be able to pay less than the Department of Health and Social Services pays directly for similar services.

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.

DE Governor’s Commission Committee Sets Agenda to Build Access to Quality Home Health Care

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

The Governor’s Commission on Building Access to Community-based Services, Health Committee, determined its new agenda last week.  With support of representatives from Family Voices and Family SHADE, the committee will work on ensuring that all Delawareans eligible for community-based services know what they qualify for and how to access care.  At the suggestion of a representative from Nemours A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children and me, the committee will also be working to ensure that all Delawareans, especially children, have access to quality home health care.

Delaware: Now’s The Time for Advocacy!

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

The Delaware General Assembly has recessed until April 25, making now the perfect time to reach out to your legislators to schedule a visit with one of our clients or a discussion in your office.  Support for our rate floor bill is growing.  This bill would strengthen home health care across the state, ensuring that reimbursement rates from Medicaid-contracted organizations would be no lower than Medicaid pays directly.  This would enable all home health care providers to make informed business decisions, with the assurance that private rates would never fall below that “floor.”  We already have bipartisan support in the House.  We’re meeting with additional representatives and moving to build support with senators on both sides of the aisle as well.

Delaware State Medicaid Budget Shielded From Cuts

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

Governor John Carney introduced his budget, addressing the $385 million budget shortfall the state faces this year.  He proposed to make up half of the amount through new tax revenue and the other half by cutting spending.  Many state programs are facing cuts, the state is freezing hiring, some (non-health) facilities will be shut down.  In light of all of that, it is remarkable to be able to say that the governor included $11.8 million additional dollars to Medicaid to ensure that the program continues to be fully-funded.

Ali Knott Named National Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year

Submitted by Dave Totaro, Chief Government Affairs Officer (GAO)

Delaware Pediatric North (DPN) Director Ali Knott last week was named the 2016 Government Affairs Office (GAO) Hearts for Home Care National Ambassador of the Year!

GAO had the distinct honor of recognizing Ali and four other passionate Ambassadors from our largest-footprint states—Delaware/Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—during our annual Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year awards celebration.

Over the last year, these Ambassadors of the Year connected with, and actively shared, BAYADA’s mission with legislators on behalf of our clients and caregivers.

Ali received the National award after being named the Delaware/Maryland Ambassador of the Year. Since becoming an Ambassador, she has been a consistent supporter and advocate in Delaware public life. In the fall, she and her son, Christopher, met with Senator (now Lt. Governor) Bethany Hall-Long and Senator Nicole Poore where they both made a strong impression on both legislators.

New Jersey Ambassador of the Year Ida Rodriguez, client services manager of Hudson County (HUD) assistive care state programs office, developed and strengthened a relationship with Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, which included a home visit with a HUD client. As a result, Assemblywoman Jimenez signed on as a co-sponsor to a vital piece of legislation that BAYADA supports – A320.

Melissa Zuzolo, director of Conover (CON) assistive care state programs and North Carolina Ambassador of the Year coordinated a home visit, served on the board of the BAYADA NC political action committee and represented BAYADA on the Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

Pennsylvania Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski was named state Ambassador for the final time. During 2016 he served as community liaison in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) assistive care state programs office. Since then, Mike has transitioned his passion for advocacy into a new position within GAO as the new Grassroots Manager. While serving as an Ambassador in 2016, Mike served as a board member of the BAYADA PA political action committee, organized four legislative round tables, and was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf as the sole home care representative to the Governor’s Long-Term Care Council.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper with the 2016 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year: Melissa Zuzolo (North Carolina), Ali Knott (Delaware/Maryland and National), Ida Rodriguez (New Jersey); Trisha Lasher (Rookie); and Mike Sokoloski (Pennsylvania)

Trisha Lasher, a nurse in the Berks County Visits (BRK) office was named National Rookie Ambassador of the Year. Trisha has the distinction of being our first field employee to serve as an Ambassador. She built a relationship with Representative Jim Cox that was instrumental in helping a client who had been hitting roadblocks for five years to finally get a chair glide installed in her home.

Honorees traveled to Washington, DC to celebrate their achievements. They enjoyed a private festive reception before heading to dinner and the awards presentation at Charlie Palmer Steak. Senator Tom Carper joined the group to address some of the major issues affecting health care at the federal level, and to congratulate our Ambassador of the Year awardees. Before heading home, Ambassadors and their guests also spent time touring the city with stops including the White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the US Capitol.

Thank you to Ali, Ida, Melissa, Mike and Trisha, the GAO team, and to all of our 192 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors for being the unified voice of our clients who can’t always speak up for themselves. It is with your support, and the support of our division directors and directors, that we will continue to make strides toward achieving our BAYADA vision of helping millions of people experience a better quality of life in the comfort of their own homes. After all, as our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year reminded us time and time again, advocacy is The BAYADA Way.