FED: Home Health to See Rate Decrease in January 2020. What Can You Do?

CMS recently finalized calendar year 2019 and 2020 payment changes for home health agencies. The new payment model, also known as the Patient Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), was finalized on October 31, 2018. There is some good news: We will see Medicare payments increase by 2.2%–or $420 million–based on finalized policies this year. The reimbursement rate increase is the first the home health industry has received in a decade. Unfortunately, the final rule addresses that home health will see a decrease of payments by 6.42% based on the use of “behavioral assumptions” which will take effect January 2020.

Luckily Congress is working with the industry and has introduced corrective legislation into the House and Senate that counteracts this measure. Several of our legislative champions, including Vern Buchanan (R-FL), sponsored one of the three bills introduced, each of which would serve to counteract the “behavioral assumptions” by requiring Medicare to implement adjustments to reimbursement rates only after improper behavioral actions by home health agencies are actually observed affecting Medicate spending rather than assuming those improper activities will occur. While this is a great first step, we need more legislative support to ensure that one of these bills crosses the finish line.

How can you help? The Government Affairs Office (GAO) has been working diligently to meet with key legislators and introduce them to our issues and those of our staff and clients, but we can’t do it alone. BAYADA has been asked to take the lead of home visits for our industry and we need office staff to help us communicate the importance of home care and proper Medicare reimbursement for our services.

To join in our advocacy efforts, please consider meeting with your federal Congressman or Senator through an office visit or home visit. Contact GAO Federal Associate Lindsey Wright today to learn more and to coordinate. The Federal Affairs team has a busy first month of the year and will be making visits to Home Health offices the year to hear what is most important in your office and how we can help.

Upcoming Events

Date Event Location
January 17 Home Health Office Visits CO
January 21-23 Home Health Office Visits AZ
January 24 NHPCO/HAN Board Meeting Phoenix, AZ
January 27-29 Home Care 100 Phoenix, AZ
January 30 HCAOA Board Meeting Tucson, AZ
February 7 PMHC Board Meeting Washington D.C.

BAYADA to US Senate: No hearing. No vote.

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

 

This is the most important “Call to Action” in BAYADA’s history. The US Senate in Washington is pushing through a bill that would drastically cut services and access to care by trying to vote on a bill without any hearings or any debate.

As Hearts for Home Care, you will undoubtedly be a driving force to preventing this potentially damaging action. In fact, more than 2,400 of our champions have already sent more than 120,000 letters to senators and our #NoHearingNoVote hashtag has been posted more than 700 times with a reach of 2 MILLION users on Twitter! Continue to have conversations with your colleagues and encourage advocacy. We have complete and total confidence that your efforts will be paramount to our success!

Take action three different ways!

 

  1. Email US Senators: If you haven’t already, please visit www.bayada.com/actnow to take action now. Note: You will be asked to enter your work e-mail and home zip code to take action.After you take action, forward the link to three friends and share it on your social media pages!
  2. Facebook profile frame: Use these instructions to add a #NoHearingNoVote frame to your profile picture.
  3. #NoHearingNoVote social media post: Post a photo of yourself, your fellow Hearts for Home Care, or your loved ones holding up a sign showing that we’re standing up for our clients and caregivers. When you share, be sure to include the hashtag #nohearingnovote in the caption.

Where are we now?

On Thursday, June 22, the Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a “discussion draft” of its version of the American Health Care Act. Four Republican senators have stated publicly they do not support the bill in its current form, meaning it cannot pass the Senate without changes being made to it. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is not expected to release a cost estimate of the legislation until early next week. A vote in the Senate could occur prior to the July 4 recess.

This version of the legislation would make broad changes to federal spending in these five areas:

  1.    Medicaid: Reduces federal matching rate for adults covered by the Medicaid expansion; caps the growth in per-enrollee payments for most Medicaid beneficiaries
  2.    Tax credits and related coverage provisions: Eliminates subsidies to purchase plans from the individual market in 2020; revises ACA tax credits
  3.    Patient and state stability fund grants: Provides $112 billion to states and insurers to reduce premiums for insurance purchased in the individual market
  4.    Penalty payments: Eliminates the employer mandate and individual mandate penalties
  5.    Noncoverage provisions: Repeals multiple taxes not relating to coverage, including the tax on high-income people and the medical device tax

The Power of the Hashtag

Submitted by Jake Verdi, Intern, Government Affairs (GAO)

Social Media has become many Americans go-to platform to speak about their beliefs and ideas, especially about politics in America. It gives people the ability to voice their opinions.  The ability for citizens to give their input about legislation that affects them and millions of others is the foundation of democracy.

Recently, a small group of Republican U.S. Senators, reportedly only 12 people, have been drafting a bill in secret that has been rumored to cut 25% of Medicaid funding.  They will press for a vote without a public hearing. This cut would be detrimental to millions of low-income and disabled people who rely on Medicaid to receive necessary medical care.

In the United States, citizens of each state vote for two U.S. Senators to represent them and their interests in the federal government. The idea that 12 people have silenced the other 88 elected senators on the matter gives the American people much less representation on an issue that is key to our ideas of government and society.  Not only are they not including the other elected Senators of the United States, but due to the secrecy, no one can at this time confirm whether they are actually representing the ideas of the people who actually put them into office.

It has become time to fight back, and social media can play a key part in the strategy. This lack of a hearing is a pressing issue among all Americans today, and it has caused multiple movements to be created on social media. One of the movements that has been used by many, including senators, is the hashtag campaign, #nohearingnovote. As it states, the movement and those supporting it call for there to be a hearing for the bill so that everyone is able to give their thoughts before a full vote occurs, through the representatives that they elect. Supporting the movement can be as easy as sending a tweet with the “#nohearingnovote” in the message.

Through using social media, our go-to platform to discuss so many topics, we can create as much buzz as possible to stop this bill until a hearing can be held and the voices of all Americans can be represented. Support the movement! #nohearingnovote

BAYADA to US Senate: No hearing. No vote.

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

This is the most important “Call to Action” in BAYADA’s history. The US Senate in Washington is pushing through a bill that would drastically cut services and access to care by trying to vote on a bill without any hearings or any debate.

As Hearts for Home Care, you will undoubtedly be a driving force to preventing this potentially damaging action. In fact, more than 2,400 of our champions have already sent more than 120,000 letters to senators and our #NoHearingNoVote hashtag has been posted more than 700 times with a reach of 2 MILLION users on Twitter! Continue to have conversations with your colleagues and encourage advocacy. We have complete and total confidence that your efforts will be paramount to our success!

Take action three different ways!

  1. Email US Senators: If you haven’t already, please visit www.bayada.com/actnow to take action now. Note: You will be asked to enter your work e-mail and home zip code to take action.After you take action, forward the link to three friends and share it on your social media pages!
  2. Facebook profile frame: Use these instructions to add a #NoHearingNoVote frame to your profile picture.
  3. #NoHearingNoVote social media post: Post a photo of yourself, your fellow Hearts for Home Care, or your loved ones holding up a sign showing that we’re standing up for our clients and caregivers. When you share, be sure to include the hashtag #nohearingnovote in the caption.

Where are we now?

On Thursday, June 22, the Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a “discussion draft” of its version of the American Health Care Act. Four Republican senators have stated publicly they do not support the bill in its current form, meaning it cannot pass the Senate without changes being made to it. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is not expected to release a cost estimate of the legislation until early next week. A vote in the Senate could occur prior to the July 4 recess.

This version of the legislation would make broad changes to federal spending in these five areas:

  1. Medicaid: Reduces federal matching rate for adults covered by the Medicaid expansion; caps the growth in per-enrollee payments for most Medicaid beneficiaries
  2. Tax credits and related coverage provisions: Eliminates subsidies to purchase plans from the individual market in 2020; revises ACA tax credits
  3.  Patient and state stability fund grants: Provides $112 billion to states and insurers to reduce premiums for insurance purchased in the individual market
  4.  Penalty payments: Eliminates the employer mandate and individual mandate penalties
  5.  Noncoverage provisions: Repeals multiple taxes not relating to coverage, including the tax on high-income people and the medical device tax

Awards Weekend PAC Push Sees Major Success

Submitted by Alisa Borovik, Senior Associate (GAO)

During every Awards Weekend since 2012, our Government Affairs Office (GAO) has manned a Political Action Committee (PAC) table to attract new members to join BAYADA’s PACs. Each year, GAO recruits new members, and this Awards Weekend’s PAC table saw record-breaking numbers!

The goal was to bring in a combined total of 80 new PAC members, and increased contributions from current members. The booth actually brought in over 160 new sign-ups and increasers—more than doubling our goal!

The new sign-ups and increasers bring in a combined yearly total of over $35,000 to the BAYADA PACs.

GAO extends a deep and heartfelt thank you to all of those who signed up to contribute at this year’s PAC table. Your contributions go toward legislative and policy efforts that ensure our clients can continue to have a safe home life with comfort, independence, and dignity.

BAYADA currently has five PACs, one for federal-level lobbying, and one each for Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. PAC contributions open doors for GAO staff, office and field employees, and families and clients to develop relationships with key lawmakers in BAYADA PAC states and in Washington, DC. All PAC dollars are used to support legislators who understand and support the home health care industry and to increase GAO’s access to legislators to educate them about issues in the home health care industry.

This huge success could not have been possible without the help of all of the BAYADA employees who volunteered at the PAC table. These individuals energized attendees by drawing attention to the table, answering potential new contributors’ questions, and advertising the importance of PACs on BAYADA’s lobbying efforts.

PAC members contribute a small portion of their paycheck towards a PAC or multiple PACs of their choosing. For more information on PACs or to sign up to contribute to the PAC, please contact advocacy@bayada.com.

You can also access the PAC enrollment form here. >>

 

Photo: Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski answers a potential new PAC member's questions as a new sign-up spins the prize wheel
Photo: Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski answers a potential new PAC member’s questions as a new sign-up spins the prize wheel

Photo: GAO Client and Family Advocacy Manager Tara Montague talks to a potential new PAC member while GAO Senior Associate Alisa Borovik and Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski man the table.
Photo: GAO Client and Family Advocacy Manager Tara Montague talks to a potential new PAC member while GAO Senior Associate Alisa Borovik and Grassroots Advocacy Manager Mike Sokoloski man the table.

Protect Home Care

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

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to the 266 BAYADA office staff who made their voices heard. We asked you to write your congressional representatives urging them to support community and home-based care and oppose any changes that would hurt seniors and Medicaid. Utilizing our Hearts for Home Care Advocacy Center, BAYADA staff from across the country sent 813 letters to Congress. Our efforts helped stop the vote, whereby protecting seniors and Medicaid from cuts.

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.

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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.

Hearts for Home Care State Ambassadors of the Year named, to be honored in Washington, DC

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

Over the past few weeks, BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) has announced the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year finalists for each state. It is with great pleasure that we now congratulate the Hearts for Home Care State Ambassador of the Year winners:

Delaware and Maryland: Ali Knott, director, Delaware Pediatric North (DPN) office

New Jersey: Ida Rodriguez, client services manager, Hudson County (HUD) assistive care state programs office

North Carolina: Melissa Zuzolo, director, Conover (CON) assistive care state programs office

Pennsylvania: Mike Sokoloski, community liaison, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) assistive care state programs office

We also congratulate our national Rookie Ambassador of the Year Trisha Lasher, a nurse in the Berks County Visits (BRK) office.

Each of these individuals has shown an outstanding commitment to advocacy on behalf of our clients and fellow employees, which directly benefits the entire company. For example, in 3Q’16, 24% of all of the growth in the company’s revenue came from reimbursement rate increases generated by GAO over the previous year. Without the support of these Ambassadors, it would be very difficult to attain the achievements that generated such remarkable growth throughout our company and we are proud to honor these valued advocates as our 2016 Hearts for Home Care State Ambassadors of the Year.

On March 15, these awardees and their guests will spend time with GAO leadership in Washington DC, enjoying a dinner in their honor and discussing their advocacy efforts. At that dinner, they will officially receive their respective Ambassador of the Year Awards, and one of the four state Ambassadors will receive the prestigious Hearts for Home Care National Ambassador of the Year recognition. The trip also includes an overnight stay at the Marriott Marquis and the opportunity to take in the sights of Washington on a private guided tour.

 The Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Program

 Since 2011, the Ambassador program has promoted advocacy by calling on staff to take leadership roles within their offices as Ambassadors. The Ambassador’s role is to act as a liaison for GAO in communicating the importance of our advocacy initiatives to their colleagues and spearheading visits with legislators at clients’ homes, in legislators’ district offices, and with staff at our support and service offices.

Our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year have gone well above and beyond the ambassador call of duty.

In Delaware, Ali and her son, Christopher, attended a meet-and-greet with Senator (now Lt. Governor) Bethany Hall-Long and Senator Nicole Poore where they made a strong impression on the legislators as Ali shared the challenges of the disability community.

In New Jersey, Ida 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.

In North Carolina, in addition to coordinating a home visit, Melissa served on the board of the BAYADA NC political action committee and represented BAYADA on the Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

In Pennsylvania, in addition to serving as a board member of the BAYADA PA political action committee, Mike organized four legislative round tables in 2016 and was appointed by then-Governor Tom Wolf as the sole home care representative to the Governor’s Long-Term Care Council.

Also in Pennsylvania, our Rookie 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.

We appreciate all 192 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who advocate for our clients and colleagues while still performing their full-time job responsibilities. We also thank the division directors and directors who either serve as Ambassadors or support the Ambassadors in their areas. Everyone’s volunteer advocacy efforts truly embody living The BAYADA Way.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year!

 

 

Meet the DE, MD, NC, and PA Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Award Finalists

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, DE and MD Government Affairs, Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs and Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)

Last week we introduced you to BAYADA’s New Jersey Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year finalists. This week we profile the Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors from Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania who have been selected as finalists for their state Ambassador of the Year Awards. Their advocacy over the past year has shown their dedication to being a constant and powerful advocate for our staff and clients.

Now that you have met all of our finalists, next week we will announce the Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year from each state. These hard-working Ambassadors will receive a trip to Washington, DC for a special awards dinner where they will be honored and the National Ambassador of the Year will be named.

Delaware and Maryland

Baltimore West Visits (BWV) Area Director David Pareja volunteered to be an Ambassador at the beginning of December 2015. Despite his short tenure, he has been very effective. He learned the role, contacted Senator Gail Bates, and completed a very successful home visit at the beginning of January.

Senator Bates was elected in 2002 to the House where she served until elected to the Senate in 2015. She sits on the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and is a CPA by profession. This gives her credibility in tax and appropriations issues, as well as a vote on health-related matters. In addition to hosting this visit successfully, David involved his team in the effort and spread excitement about advocacy. In his role as area director, he has the ability to encourage others to follow his lead.

Delaware Pediatric North (DPN) Director Ali Knott has been a consistent supporter and advocate in Delaware public life. She and her son, Christopher, attended a meet-and-greet with Senator (now Lt. Governor) Bethany Hall-Long and Senator Nicole Poore after working hours in September where they both made a strong impression on both legislators. The event was hosted by leaders in the disability community, with whom Ali also maintains a good relationship.

In addition, Ali supported coordination and prepared to host a clinical roundtable in her office in December with the Lt. Governor-elect. Although the meeting had to rescheduled at the last minute, that does not diminish Ali’s willingness and effort in preparing for this meeting.

Delaware Pediatrics (DP) Clinical Manager Tiffany Willis and her three children spent most of a Sunday in August volunteering for Representative Paul Baumbach at a community fair. Representative Baumbach is known to be a coalition-builder, bringing together legislators with differing motivations to pass legislation that makes sense. He and Tiffany had a good conversation about the need for increased funding for home and community based services.

Following Tiffany’s efforts, Representative Baumbach has offered to sponsor legislation on our behalf. Tiffany has also been great at keeping in touch when she has received communications from her federal representatives and candidates for state elections that have reached out to her.

North Carolina

Lake Norman Adults (LNA) Director Chad Shore has been an Ambassador since 2015 and is a member of the North Carolina political action committee (PAC). In his first year as an Ambassador, he was named the 2015 North Carolina Ambassador Rookie of the Year.

In 2016, Chad hosted two home visits where local legislators visited with BAYADA clients. He responded to 100% of the online calls to action, represented BAYADA at numerous political receptions, and attended NC Legislative Day, where he served as a team leader. Thanks to his hard work and diligence, the LNA office is at 100% for Hearts for Home Care registration.

An Ambassador since 2015, Asheville Pediatrics (AP) Client Services Manager Jennifer Parham arranged to hold a roundtable in her office with a local legislator and coordinated two home visits with legislators and BAYADA clients.

She also served as a team leader during NC Legislative Day. In addition to being a NC PAC member, Jennifer has responded to 100% of the online calls to action and has achieved a 100% for Hearts for Home Care registration in the AP office.

Conover Adults (CON) Director Melissa Zuzolo is a repeat finalist. Last year, she was named the 2015 North Carolina Ambassador of the Year. In 2016, Melissa coordinated a home visit for a local legislator and served as a team leader for North Carolina Legislative Day.

She also represents BAYADA on the Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee, where she helped organize a large fundraiser for the organization. She is not only a PAC member, but was elected to serve a two-year term on the NC PAC Board. As an Ambassador since 2011, Melissa responds to 100% of the online calls to action and attends numerous political receptions on behalf of BAYADA. Thanks to her efforts, the CON office is at 100% for Hearts for Home Care registration.

Pennsylvania

Sellersville Pediatrics (SEL) Associate Christine Detweiler has been a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador for several years and her office has a 100% Hearts for Home Care registration rate. Chris has taken to building key relationships, and this year she focused in on Representative Craig Staats (R) through district office visits and home visits. Through her relationship building, Representative Staats began to see the importance of pediatric home care, especially after his visit with their client Gabe.

Chris was an integral part of Lobby Day where she encouraged Gabe and his mom to attend the event and worked with Representative Staat’s office to arrange parking and other needs. Representative Staats cleared a good amount of time to give Gabe and his family a tour of the Capitol and even arranged for Speaker Turzai to recognize Gabe and BAYADA on the House floor.

Because of their relationship, Rep. Staats wants to ensure that home care is known as the solution and that the state invests in it. He is a supporter and has asked for an active role in helping us achieve our goal of allowing presumptive eligibility for home care.

Berks County Visits (BRK) Nurse Trisha Lasher, an Ambassador since 2016, is our first field employee Hearts for Home Care Ambassador. While she was nervous about her first meeting with a legislator, she decided she’d do it on her own and hasn’t stopped since. Trisha started by visiting Representative Jim Cox (R) in his district, and followed up with him later that year in Harrisburg at Lobby Day. She wrote up her experience in the BAYADA Bulletin, which prompted a joint home visit with Representative Cox and the Reading Adult (RAD) assistive care office. Because of the relationship she had built with Representative Cox, when he went to visit an adult client he took immediate action to help the client. The client had been trying to get a chair glide installed in her house for five years. After the visit, Representative Cox made several calls to service coordinators, found systemic fraud and flaws in the system, and was able to get the client the chair glide within six weeks of the home visit. Building on their relationship, Representative Cox agreed to write letters of support for our pediatric rate increase, and the Medicaid spend-down issue.

As election time rolled around and GAO hosted the Bring the Vote Home Campaign, Trisha enlisted the help of all the office staff to call all clients. They educated clients on voting, the PHA voter guide, and let them know about absentee ballots. Trisha then organized field employees to visit those home and deliver the absentee ballots. From building relationships to advocating for clients’ needs, Trisha has shown her dedication to being an excellent Hearts for Home Care Ambassador.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) Community Liaison Michael Sokoloski is another repeat finalist on our list. Last year he was selected as the PA Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year as well as the National Ambassador of the Year. A Hearts for Home Care Ambassador since the program began six years ago, he has developed strong ties with every legislator in the northeast portion of the state and makes countless district office and home visits every year.

He also created a niche role for himself as an Ambassador mentor. He has helped others get into the program, helps them make their first visits, and answers questions. As he has started to help with field employee recruitment efforts, he has also hosted Hearts for Home Care Tables, which help introduce our advocacy program to field employees and get them registered on the advocacy center. Mike serves as a member of the PA BAYADA political action committee and planned four legislative roundtables this year to bring about a greater awareness of home care and our issues to key legislators.

Mike is so well known in the northeast that the local Area Agencies on Aging rely on him for information about the state. In fact, he even drove several of them to Harrisburg to participate in a hearing on the issues associated with the independent enrollment broker. Because of the very strong relationships Mike has developed with legislators, he was nominated by Representative Sid Michaels Kavulich to serve on the newly established Long-Term Care Council, and he was appointed to the council by then-Governor Tom Wolf. This council has one official home care representative and because of Mike’s relationships, he ensured BAYADA will be that voice.