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

U.S. Senate Aging Committee Staff Spends Day with BAYADA

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)

Recently, Samantha Koehler, policy aide to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging for ranking member U.S. Senator Bob Casey, and Vicki Hoak, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, spent the day in Philadelphia with BAYADA Home Health Care.  During her time with us, Samantha spent time learning about the inner workings of our service office and went on two home visits, one to an assistive care state programs client and another to a hospice client.

During Samantha’s visit, we discussed the most recent issues to impact home care in Pennsylvania including the institutional bias that still exists, the challenges with the recent proposal to block grant or institute per-capita caps to Medicaid, and the harmful proposed home health groupings rule.

Samantha loved getting to spend some time with Ms. Lenora E. and her aide Kimyatta J. Ms. E has been a BAYADA client for over a year and gets nine hours of care a day.  She is served by the Philadelphia Corporation of Aging (PCA) office. She also met Florence G., a 101-year-old heart patient who can remain at home with her daughter because of the care we deliver. She loves her Clinical Manager Faith Brown almost as much as she loves her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Grace is served out of the Pennsylvania Media Hospice (PMH) office.

A big thank you to the PCA and PMH staff for hosting Samantha!

Executive Director of PHA Vicki Hoak, BAYADA Aide Kimyatta J., BAYADA Client Lenora E. and Policy Aide Samantha Koehler sit and discuss home care.

Saying Goodbye to a Champion

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

Republican Sen. Tommy Tucker of Union County announced that he won’t seek a fifth term in 2018.  Sen. Tucker co-chairs the influential Senate Finance Committee. “I have long believed in term limits for judges and politicians,” he said in a statement to the Charlotte Observer. “After serving four terms in the N.C. Senate, the time has come for me to allow others to step in and serve Union County and our state.”

Our relationship with Sen. Tucker started back in 2011 when Hearts for Home Care Ambassador John Morris and I visited with him in his district office to introduce him to BAYADA and home care.  That visit led to a home visit where he was able to see first-hand the impact home care has on his constituent.  Over the years and as he rose through the ranks, we met with Sen. Tucker numerous times, attended legislative receptions for him, as well as, visited with him at Lobby Days.  His door is always open for BAYADA.  He was instrumental in ensuring the CAP-C rate increase for nursing was put in the Senate’s budget and that it was ultimately passed.  Sen. Tucker was BAYADA’s Legislator of the Year 2016. We thank Sen. Tucker for his commitment and support of our staff and clients.  His vision and leadership will be missed.

LaToya, Jackie, Tanner, and Melissa at Legislative Day with Sen. Tucker receiving the BAYADA Legislator of the Year Award

Aides Cried Tears of Joy for Much-deserved Raises throughout North Carolina’s Assistive Care State Programs Offices

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO) and Shannon McCarson, Regional Director, Dogwood Group (DOG)

We worked together and made it possible. After many years of advocating for higher reimbursement rates within the state Medicaid programs, we finally received an increase in the hourly rate for personal care services (PCS). This achievement was made possible through the persistent advocacy efforts of our employees, clients, families, and government affairs team. Our Hearts for Home Care Advocates participated in email campaigns, home visits, legislative roundtables, home care lobby days in Raleigh, and professional lobbying efforts.

As a result of working together, this week assistive care state programs directors throughout the state were thrilled to pass along an increase to our deserving CNAs and HHAs who care for our Medicaid clients and have stuck with us through thick and thin.

Directors have been personally speaking to staff to share the great news. “One by one, as I spoke to our aides, I heard the same thing – gratitude, appreciation, tears of joy, and, yes relief, too,” said Mimosa (MIM) Division Director Joe Seidel. “The low Medicaid reimbursement rate made it impossible to pay more. I am glad to do it now.” This rate increase is a good place to start, and more needs to be done.

Let’s keep the momentum going by joining to be a Hearts for Home Care Advocate. We believe our aides deserve even more for the important work they do in keeping our clients safe at home. If you are not already part of our advocacy group, join today at heartsforhomecare.com to receive alerts that could influence future efforts to increase pay rates.

 

Meeting a Constituent was a Treat for NC Representative John Fraley

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

On August 16, Representative John Fraley visited with staff from our Lake Norman adult office before heading to meet with his constituent, our client, Mr. Bachner.  Associate Lauren Keys, the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador who organized the home visits, commented “Rep. Fraley came prepared with good questions about home care and Medicaid reform.  While he doesn’t sit on a health committee, he wanted to learn about our issues.”  Clinical Manager Mary Hope Milligan and Client Services Manager Lucas Reives both described our recruiting challenges.

Mr. Bachner, a 90-year old WWII, Korean, and Vietnam vet, was a delight.  He shared many stories of his life, his children, and his service to our country.  It was especially heartwarming to hear how he met his wife, Cora, and after a week proposed marriage – a marriage that lasted 60-year.

Photo (left to right): Lauren Keys, Mr. Bachner, Rep. Fraley, and Tim Bachner

While Mr. Bachner is satisfied with his Veterans Administration (VA) benefits, we took this opportunity to share with Rep. Fraley the disparity between VA and Medicaid and how difficult it is to staff under Medicaid because the rates are so low.  As a retired businessman, Rep. Fraley understood and said, “Thank you for opportunity to meet with BAYADA staff and Mr. Bachner.  This was a good learning experience for me, as well as, a treat!“  As our meeting concluded, he commented that all he needed to remember was that we’re looking to get to $17.00 per hour next session.

Photo 2: Rep. Fraley with BAYADA staff

Whirlwind Tour Through the Carolinas

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

Last week, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I started our three-day trip across the Carolinas in Columbia with a productive meeting on rates with Bryan Kost, Chief Legislative Liaison SC Department of Health & Humans Services.  We are looking for support for a rate increase for next session.  Further, as a way to connect with staff on issues and share our advocacy message, we visited our offices in Columbia, Charleston, Southport, and Fayetteville.  These round table discussions help us better understand care delivery challenges and identify ways we can help.  Lastly, we were thrilled to have met Brock, an adorable 18 month-old boy, and his family near Charleston.  After 9 months in the hospital, he was ready to come home with the support of nursing.  Home visits remind us why we go to work every day and how important it is for each of us to advocate for quality home health care.

Toms River NJ Pediatrics Ambassador Arranges Her First Home Visit

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

As a new Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, Toms River Pediatrics (TRP) Client Services Manager Allison Nulton has been enthusiastically educating legislators on matters relating to her clients.  Earlier this summer, Allison took the initiative and invited state legislator Senator Samuel Thompson to a home visit for one of her clients.  So, on July 26, Allison, TRP Clinical Associate Suzanne McCuen, and the clients’ mom Jocelyn took turns explaining to Senator Thompson about the needs of the children and how important home health care has been in keeping the boys at home.

While Jake (right) is the only one who receives services from BAYADA his brother Ben (left) is also afflicted by the same disease.

Photo of Home Visit

 

 

Personal Care Assistant Fee-for-Service Rate Increased in NJ State Budget

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

On July 3, Governor Christie signed the NJ budget which contains a budget resolution to increase the Personal Care Assistant rate under fee-for-service. I am happy to inform you the NJ PCA fee-for-service rate is now $19.00 per hour. The new rate is effective as of July 1, 2017.
This is largely due to the support of BAYADA leadership, the directors and their office staff, and our wonderful Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who made legislative office visits, held legislative roundtables, and offered home visits advocating for our clients and families. Great advocacy efforts by all!

NC Long Legislative Session Gaveled Out

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

Last week Speaker Tim Moore and President Pro Tempore Phil Berger ended the long legislative session after passing, along party lines, North Carolina’s 23 billion dollar budget. The budget contained a few provisions we asked for, but not everything. The budget was sent to Governor Roy Cooper for signature. As expected, the budget was vetoed and must be sent back to the General Assembly. Lawmakers plan to return in August where the Republican-majority has sufficient votes to override the veto. It is reported the General Assembly will reconvene for as many as three Special Sessions this year – on August 3rd to address any bills vetoed by Governor Cooper, and on September 6th and November 15th to address redistricting, as the US Supreme Court ruled that our current NC House and Senate maps unconstitutionally disenfranchised African American voters.

While members are back in their districts our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors will be reaching out to schedule home visits and hosts legislative round table with their offices.   Watch for ways to get involved.

Advocacy over the Summer in NJ

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

Once the legislature finishes with the budget, the summer recess will begin. This is a good opportunity to reach out to your district legislators and offer legislative roundtables, or to just stop by their offices to say hello. Many of our pediatric clients have a more limited school schedule, making this is a great opportunity for home visits. If you would like assistance with home visits, roundtables, or district office visits, please let me know so I can help to get them scheduled. By early fall, the entire legislature will be busy running for re-election, so now is the time to put home health care on their agenda for discussion.