Maryland Wrap-Up: Home Care Access Bill and Others

BAYADA’s primary goal this session was to pass legislation requiring the state to evaluate disabled children’s and adults’ access to home health care.  We built a coalition, developed a persuasive body of research, and educated key legislators about low Medicaid rates and the desperate need for more LPNs in home care.  In the final hour of the year’s legislative session, the bill passed unanimously.  We know that disabled children and adults in Maryland are routinely going without the care they need.  The task force this bill establishes, and the report that they will publish, will allow us to advocate for greatly increased Medicaid rates in the coming months.  This is an important step forward to bring reliable, high quality home healthcare to more Marylanders.

Thank you Delegate Kirill Reznik and Senator Steve Waugh for supporting home care by sponsoring this bill!

In other news:

  • MINIMUM WAGE- A proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $15 failed. The issue will likely be back for consideration in 2019. A previously-scheduled increase to $10.10 this summer will still occur.
  • SICK LEAVE- A statewide sick leave mandate passed last session, which Gov. Hogan vetoed. This session, the legislature overrode the veto and put the mandate into effect as of February 11. BAYADA’s LS and POL groups have made sure that BAYADA is in compliance.
  • HEALTH INSURANCE- In reaction to federal elimination of the individual mandate and some health insurance market funding, the state took steps to stabilize individual marketplace health insurance premium rates and will evaluate proposals to encourage younger, healthier people to buy health insurance.
  • PRESCRIPTION DRUGS- An effort to prevent price-gouging for prescription drugs failed. A separate bill that allows pharmacists to tell consumers about lower-cost drug options passed.

NJ PCA “Clean-up” Bill Awaits Health Committee Vote

NJ Senator Troy Singleton and Assembly Committee on Human Services Chairwoman Assemblywoman Joann Downey have introduced legislation S1820/A3632 to further clarify the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) increase to direct care workers.

The legislation will simplify the process for the PCA direct care worker’s rate increase and will take provider costs into account. GAO is currently meeting with members of the legislature to ask for their support for this clarification bill.

As background, New Jersey’s PCA program has had historically low reimbursement rates under the state’s fee-for-service. Over the last three years, GAO was successful in increasing the state -fee-for-service rate from $15.50 to $18.00 per hour and last year, to $19.00 per hour. Unfortunately, when the PCA program transitioned to Managed Medicaid, managed care companies did not follow the same reimbursement rates and continued to pay, in many cases, less than $15.50 per hour.

In the last legislative session, GAO was successful in passing legislation which set a reimbursement floor in managed care for PCA at $19.00 per hour. However, Governor Christie conditionally vetoed the legislation with a stipulation requiring all increases pass directly through to direct care workers.

The legislation introduced by Senator Singleton and Assemblywoman Downey will further clarify the PCA increases to account for direct and indirect provider costs. If you have any questions about this bill or any other bills in NJ, please feel free to email me at llindenmeier@bayada.com.

NJ Legislature Addresses Parking Issues for Nurses

In many of the state’s concentrated communities, parking has presented nurses and the state’s most medically fragile individuals with a sincere barrier to care. In many cases, our nurses must possess a parking permit to park legally. However, even with these permits, our nurses often receive tickets or even have their cars towed.

During a recent conversation with Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) explained that nurses are reluctant to serve clients in these areas, which has led to recruitment and retention issues for BAYADA and other home care providers.

As a result, the assemblywoman introduced legislation A3683, which would allow home care providers to obtain parking placards, comparable to handicapped parking placards, from the Motor Vehicle Commission, for our nurses. We are currently waiting for the bill to be heard in the Transportation Committee.

Sick Leave Becomes Law in Override of Maryland Governor Hogan Veto

At the end of the 2017 session, the Maryland General Assembly voted in favor of a statewide sick leave law. It was the sixth consecutive year that the bill was introduced.

The measure was fiercely debated and amended several times. The final version mandates that employees who work more than 12 hours in an average week earn paid sick leave at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours per year. The sick leave may be used for the employee’s own sickness or that of a family member, to obtain preventative health care or to prevent domestic violence or stalking.

Following the 2017 session, Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the legislation, calling it bad for Maryland businesses. The legislature overrode the veto on the second day of session this year, January 11. It will go into effect 30 days after the override vote, pending a new bill introduced this week that would delay implementation. POL has been notified of the change and will issue guidance on how this will impact BAYADA offices.

If you have any questions about what’s going on in Maryland’s state capitol, let’s chat! Email me at sgahs@bayada.com.

Equalizing Access Legislation Approved in PA House Health Committee

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

On November 21, the House Health Committee met and unanimously voted to approve HB 1829. HB 1829 allows individuals to be presumed eligible for home health care. This practice is currently allowed for nursing homes but is not extended to home care. Because of this, Pennsylvanians often go without the help they need or are unnecessarily placed in a nursing home. The legislation approved included two amendments, which changes the name “presumptive eligibility” to “deemed eligibility”. It also extends this process to allow adult day centers to do presumptive eligibility as well. We are very pleased with this outcome. Next the bill will go to the House Appropriations Committee. The Government Affairs Office (GAO) is working to set up meetings with Appropriations Committee members to ask them to support this legislation.

Private Duty Nursing Bill Introduced to Raise Reimbursement under State Fee-For-Service

On July 13, Assemblyman Troy Singleton and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg introduced legislation A5089/S3400 which increases the New Jersey private duty nursing rate under State Fee-For-Service Medicaid by $10 per hour for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. The last rate increase for private duty nursing was in 2008. BAYADA has been working with the Home Care Association and other providers discussing the need for a rate increase as it is difficult to recruit and retain nurses. BAYADA did an internal study and found of the scheduled hours, only 72% of those hours were filled, leaving clients and families without care.

DHS Secretary Testifies at Recent ACA Repeal Hearing

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

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Teresa Miller was called to testify recently at the US Senate Committee on Finance during the Graham-Cassidy bill proposal.  This proposed legislation would have a traumatic impact to the home care industry.  Not only would it have limited health care coverage for millions of Americans it would have also block granted Medicaid which would limit Pennsylvanians access to home care services.

Because of our advocacy efforts and the advocacy efforts of others, the bill was removed from consideration.

There have been many action alerts this past quarter each one more important than the last. Thank you for taking the time to be a heart for home care and taking action!

Photo credit: PA Department of Human Services
DHS Acting Secretary Miller testifies in front of Senate Finance Committee Photo credit: PA Department of Human Services 

 

 

Presumptive Eligibility Legislation Introduced in the House and Senate

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

The work of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Pennsylvania Health Law Project, and the Elder Law Attorneys has led to presumptive eligibility legislation being officially introduced in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. The bill numbers are S.912 and H.1829.  The legislation will allow individuals to be presumed financially eligible for home care services. This will greatly expedite the process and allow individuals to access the care they want when they want it. Since being introduced GAO has been working to obtain additional co-sponsors for both pieces of legislation. So far, we have 24 House sponsors and 16 Senate sponsors.

More work is still needed.  Please take a moment to email your state legislators and ask them to support the legislation.

Click here to tell your legislators to support equalized access to home and community based services.

See the full list of sponsors here:

 

 

 

 

PA Legislators: Co-sponsor Presumptive Eligibility

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

Recently, Senator Michele Brooks and Representative Aaron Berstine have circulated co-sponsor memos for legislation they are introducing.  The legislation allows individuals to be presumed eligible for home health care; a practice commonly known as “presumptive eligibility”.  This bill will help to increase access to care for potential and current BAYADA clients who don’t want to wait for their full applications to be processed before receiving care at home.  Specifically, the bill allows home health care agencies to presume that a client will be eligible for Medicaid and to start providing services while the full application is pending.  These clients need care as soon as possible, and this legislation will help give them that care.  The more support we can garner for this important legislation, the easier it will be to get the legislation passed.  I urge you to email your state legislators and encourage them to become co-sponsors of the presumptive eligibility bill by clicking here.