BAYADA Meets with NJ Governor Chris Christie

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

Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, State Assistive Care Practice Leader Eric Thul, and Director, Strategy & Value-Based Partnerships Matt Lippitt met with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to discuss the recently signed law which sets a floor for minimum reimbursement under managed Medicaid for Personal Care Assistant Care.  Our team explained the challenges under managed Medicaid, how reimbursement is used to support personal care services, and the wage needs of the home health aides.  The meeting was very informative for both the Governor and us, and served as an excellent start towards addressing the unintended consequences of the Governor’s conditional veto.


Photo: Matt Lippitt, Eric Thul, Governor Christie and Dave Totaro

NC: Together We Get Results

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

Legislative successes, like the Medicaid rate increase for nursing last year and the home health aide increase this year, don’t magically happen.  Legislative successes start with an identified need — low Medicaid rates made it impossible to pay people what they are worth — and end with legislators supporting jobs in the community and keeping families together by investing in home health care.  Every step along the way, our Hearts for Home Care ambassadors carried our unified message to decision-makers.  Our cumulative actions over the years, including home and district visits, legislative round tables with lawmakers, responding to calls to action, attending lobby days, etc., made all the difference.  Individually and collectively our shared voices got results.  Join us to be a Heart for Home Care ambassador.

NJ Home Visit Sheds Light on Need for Home Health Aides

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

Perth Amboy (PER) Client Service Manager Julia Nelson and I had the pleasure of meeting with PER client Joseph P. and his mother Bernadette at their home in Manasquan.  We were joined by Assemblyman Edward Thomson and Director of Constituent Services Kerry Textor.  As a client in the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) Program, Joe told the Assemblyman how much he loved his home health aide Alice.  Bernadette shared that she is an 86 year old mother caring for her 57 year old son who has multiple sclerosis.  PCA services are vital to her ability to keep Joe at home as he wishes. Unfortunately, they are not always able to get someone to cover the hours authorized due to the difficulty of recruiting aides in the Monmouth County area.  The Assemblyman, who is new to the office, offered to look into what additional services or supports they may be entitled to in order for Joe to remain with his family.

Photo (left to right): Julia Nelson, Bernadette P, Tara Montague, Joseph P, Assemblyman Thomson
Photo (left to right): Julia Nelson, Bernadette P, Tara Montague, Joseph P, Assemblyman Thomson

NJ Personal Care Assistant Floor Bill Finally Signed into Law!

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

Governor Chris Christie, signed into law A320/S1080, which sets the Medicaid managed care rate at no lower than the state’s fee for service rate for personal care services.  The Governor had conditionally vetoed the original bill in July, adding stipulations in regards to funding, wage mandates, and an effective date.  With the new stipulations as law, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) will be working with our lobbyist and bill sponsors to introduce a new bill to restructure the governor’s changes with new language, which we believe will be better for the industry and our home health aides.

 

NJ Advocacy Week- Advocacy at its Best!

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

NJ GAO held its first Advocacy Week, May 1 – 5, as Ambassadors met with 25 legislators. Throughout New Jersey, 67 office employees, two home health aides, and two clients spoke with legislators about the difficulties of attracting and retaining nurses, covering hours for private duty nursing, and the need for higher reimbursement for the Personal Care Assistant program under managed Medicaid. The aides told the legislators how much they love their work but can’t make enough to support their families. The clients spoke about how important their aides are by providing care, and, if not for the aides, they would be in long-term care.

As part of the advocacy week, office staff participated by sending out 408 emails to state legislators regarding the importance of home care. The message asked the legislators to support a reimbursement floor rate in managed Medicaid. Everyone who met with legislators expressed how much they enjoyed the experience and how good it felt to advocate for our clients and families.

 

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.

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!

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.

In North Carolina, Timing Couldn’t be Better

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

Next week, more than 65 BAYADA employees and one client will be descending upon the state capitol advocating for an increase to the aide reimbursement rate under Medicaid. We seek to go from $13.88 to $17 per hour over two years ($15.50 in year one, and $17.00 in year two), which will allow us to hire and retain more quality aides. Our advocates are poised to share their stories on why investing in home health care is necessary and the right thing to do for their constituents. Also, we will be advocating to preserve the certificate of need (CON) process. Any erosion in CON will negatively impact our Medicare offices. Our timing couldn’t be better, as the Senate is finalizing their budget bill. Donning our BAYADA red, our staff will speak from the heart.