CMS Removes HHGM Proposal from Final 2018 Rule

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

Our voices were heard. Thank you and high five to all of our BAYADA office and field employees who recently took action to voice concern about the federal Home Health Groupings Model (HHGM) proposal, which would have resulted in revenue reductions between 4.3% and 17% for BAYADA’s Home Health Specialty Practice. Such significant reductions would have impacted not only Home Health, but BAYADA as a whole.

Yesterday afternoon, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) formally indicated that 2018’s Payment Rule does not include the HHGM proposal. CMS indicated that it could not finalize the HHGM proposal at this time based on the comments received on the issue.

BAYADA employees sent more than 3,000 messages to members of Congress urging representatives and senators to take a stand against HHGM. BAYADA joined industry-wide action led by an unprecedented coordinated effort by the Partnership for Quality Home Health Care, Elevating Home and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). This effort spurred 50 US senators and 179 US representatives to reach out to CMS and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to caution against finalizing HHGM. Through BAYADA’s action on this issue and previous calls to action, BAYADA has shown itself to be one of the strongest advocacy teams in our industry.

While delaying the HHGM proposal does not indicate a permanent withdrawal, it is a clear victory for the home health and home care communities that took immediate action to stop the rule from becoming final. BAYADA and other industry stakeholders will continue to work with CMS to improve the payment model, including participating in discussions with the Congressional Committee on Ways and Means to finalize a potential legislative proposal.

Thank you for your reliability and your dedication to advocating on behalf of our staff and clients.

 

Building the Client & Family Advocacy Program

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy (GAO)

 

On August 23, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) gathered in Philadelphia, along with a few office and field employees with advanced advocacy interests.  The goal of the day was to develop tactics to engage both clients and employees who enjoy advocacy to influence decision makers to support home health care.  Building awareness, Inspiring engagement and Empowering advocates were three main phases that were at the heart of our discussions related to grassroots advocacy efforts for our clients and families here at BAYADA and also for the many others who will be moved to join us from the community.

Building Foundations for Advocacy is a Team Exercise in Maryland

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

The “Interim” or time between the end of one legislative session and the beginning of the next, is a key time to develop relationships with partners and legislators.  Much of this work is behind the scenes, but you can get involved!  We need ambassadors and other office or field employee volunteers to step up to organize district office visits, where you and I will visit key legislators in the communities they represent.  These visits are key to helping educate our legislators about the people we care for and the people we employ in their districts and build a foundation for future advocacy.  Call or email me if you’d like to get involved.

Advocacy Opportunities for our Field Staff

Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy (GAO)

Over the past two months, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) and a few award winning Hearts for Home Care ambassadors have met twice to enhance our advocacy opportunities for your colleagues in the field.  We are excited about the future of our Hearts for Home Care program, and I ask you to reach out to me if you know of any field staff that would like to be part of our advocacy efforts.  We are looking to: build Awareness, Inspire engagement, and Motive advocates!  For the links and more ways for field staff to be involved, visit our website: heartsforhomecare.com or email me at: msokoloski@bayada.com.

Photo GAO (left to right): Mike Sokoloski, Melissa Zuzolo, Alisa Borovik, Lee Dobson, Louise Lindenmeier, and Shannon Gahs

 

Successful Family Day Event in PA

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On July 27, staff from the Government Affairs Office (GAO): Mike Sokoloski, Laura Ness, Tara Montague, and I coordinated an event at Temple University in Philadelphia entitled, Family Day.  This event brought together CRO families, legislators, field staff and office staff, including some of our ambassadors,  with the goal of bringing attention to the need for an OLTL personal assistance rate increase.  The event was highlighted by a client presentation, legislative presentations, and focus group meetings where stories of how a rate increase would improve quality of care.

 

Mike Sokoloski Transitions to Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

​I am thrilled to announce that Mike Sokoloski transitioned from community liaison to join BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) team on Monday, March 13. He is the first manager of our grassroots advocacy efforts.

In this new role, Mike is responsible for overseeing and leading the work of BAYADA’s Hearts for Homecare, a companywide grassroots advocacy program that was created to support and help achieve our long-term vision. He will not only lead the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Program in five states—Delaware, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania—but will also create an outreach program to engage our field employees in advocacy. They are on the front lines of care delivery and, as many of our priorities directly impact them, this new program will give our field employees a voice to share their powerful stories. While Mike will report directly to me, he will support the other GAO state directors in their grassroots initiatives.

Prior to his transition, Mike was a community liaison for six years for two of BAYADA’s adult home care offices in northeastern PA, where he successfully managed relationships with referral sources in the community. Mike was appointed to the PA Long-Term Care Council in October of 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf as the only home care representative. He is an appointed member of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board, serving since 2013. He is also vice-president of the Northeast PA Aging Network Alliance, promoting awareness of services and issues affecting older adults in northeastern PA.

As community liaison, Mike was no stranger to government affairs. For his efforts, he was named BAYADA’s Ambassador of the Year 2014 and 2015, and PA Ambassador of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. His past success makes him an excellent choice to boost our grassroots advocacy efforts.

Mike’s immediate areas of focus include enhancing the Ambassador Program through mentorship and support of our active Ambassadors, and developing an outreach platform—piloting it in Pennsylvania—to engage our field employees, who are an untapped voice for advocacy.

Please join me in welcoming Mike to GAO!