New Jersey Client Helps Advocate for Her Aide

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ

As part of BAYADA Home Health Care’s Advocacy Week, 23-year-old Dover, NJ (DOV) assistive care state programs client Adelina “Addy” Rivera wanted to do her part to fight for a pay increase for her Certified Home Health Aide Gloria Atehortua. Last Friday morning, along with DOV Director Gretchen Munnelly, Client Services Manager Yurani Zapata, and me, Addy visited with Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblyman Parker Space at their offices in Sparta. Her aide’s care is so important to Addy and many others that she wanted to tell her legislators personally how essential Gloria is in her life. She prepared a statement which she shared with the legislators:

“If I didn’t have help, I don’t want to think about what could possibly go wrong,” said Addy. “If I didn’t have my aide’s assistance, I would not be able to function.”

Senator Oroho was so moved by her message, he asked her to consider coming to Trenton to speak to his colleagues at the statehouse. Addy indicated that she would like to do whatever she can to help with the cause. In addition, Senator Oroho gave Addy a special pin with a flag and a cross. This had extra meaning for Addy who collects flags in honor of her father, who is a veteran.

Pancakes And Politics in North Carolina

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

Special thanks to Shelby (SHE) Associate Director Amber Mitchell and Clinical Manager Vickie Deyton for representing BAYADA at the annual legislative breakfast in Shelby.  Community leaders received an update from the General Assembly; Speaker Tim Moore and Representative Kelly Hastings.  Amber is a familiar face at these legislative events and over the years has built a great relationship with Cleveland County lawmakers. In fact, when they approached for a photo, Rep. Hastings called out, “I’ve got to get on your schedule to do a home visit.”  Attending these community events not only builds awareness of the importance of home health care, but also increases our BAYADA visibility in the community.

Photo NC1 (left to right): Speaker Tim Moore, Vickie Deyton, Amber Mitchell, and Rep. Kelly Hasting

GAO Makes Progress on Rate Increase During Meeting with Senator Scott Wagner

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

On April 6th BAYADA Leaders, including Practice President David Baiada, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro, Assistive Care State Programs (ACSP) Practice Leader Eric Thul, Crocus Division Director Kevin Kuzmick, PCA Director Donna Russell-Kane, and I  met with Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner.  This meeting was a result of a previous meeting that Dave Totaro and I had with Senator Wagner introducing the need to increase the personal assistant services (PAS) rate under the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) by an average of 10%.

The meeting took place in the BAYADA PCA office. We discussed the ACSP business, its challenges and advantages, as well as the wage issues associated with the program.  Senator Wagner also heard first-hand about what it’s like to be a home health aide from PA Department of Aging’s Direct Care Worker of the Year, BAYADA aide Anne Pannone. 

The conversation was productive, and Senator Wagner understands the value of home care and the cost savings it can provide to the Commonwealth. He has agreed to help us in our legislative priority of increasing the PAS rates and would also like to spend a day in the field with Anne to see the work first-hand.

We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Wagner.

Getting the Ball Rolling: Tips to Opening a Legislative Visit

Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Grassroots Manager (GAO)

You’ve attended the annual legislative Ambassador training.  You’ve studied the talking points.  You know the fact sheet.  To make the transition from “Hello” to “Equalized Access” it would help to fill the script with soft transitional conversation that does not take too much time from your purpose.  Here are some ways to gain confidence headed into the meat-and-bones of your legislative interactions:

  • Google the legislator’s name and local newspaper name for search results containing stories of his or her involvement in the community.
  • Ask me for a “footprint” of the BAYADA clients and staff residing in the legislator’s district.
  • Go to the legislator’s webpage and scroll for recent activity related to home care or health care.
  • Ask me to research any previous meetings that Ambassadors or GAO staff has had with a tenured legislator.
  • At a week forward, week in review, or staff meeting in your office, ask your colleagues if they have any knowledge or had any interactions with the legislator you are visiting. You’d be surprised!

Remember: You’re the expert in the room during your time with a legislator.  Your State Director has provided you with ample resources and I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.  I will be thrilled to help in any way possible.

NC: Bill Dropped Moves Us One Step Closer To an Increase

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

Last week, North Carolina Representatives Josh Dobson, Chris Malone, and Gregory Murphy introduced HB 593 – Increase Personal Care Services Rates.  This proposed bill would increase the Medicaid Personal Care Service (PCS) rate to $4.25 per unit ($17.00 per hour) effective January 2018.  The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee for consideration and debate.  While this is a first step of many, it is encouraging to see that our message is being heard.

This year our Legislative Day is even more critical.  Once again, we are collaborating with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) to host the largest legislative day ever.  Mark your calendar and plan to attend the Legislative Day on May 17 in Raleigh.

Delaware: Now’s The Time for Advocacy!

Submitted by Shannon Gahs, Associate Director, DE Government Affairs (GAO)

The Delaware General Assembly has recessed until April 25, making now the perfect time to reach out to your legislators to schedule a visit with one of our clients or a discussion in your office.  Support for our rate floor bill is growing.  This bill would strengthen home health care across the state, ensuring that reimbursement rates from Medicaid-contracted organizations would be no lower than Medicaid pays directly.  This would enable all home health care providers to make informed business decisions, with the assurance that private rates would never fall below that “floor.”  We already have bipartisan support in the House.  We’re meeting with additional representatives and moving to build support with senators on both sides of the aisle as well.

Supporting Home Care at the Rhode Island State House

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director of Client and Family Advocacy

On Tuesday, April 11, a crowd of people gathered at the state room in the Rhode Island State House to thank those in our state government who support the many children, adults, and their families who rely on home care. The gathering was part of an event planned on behalf of BAYADA and the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care.

“We’re here today to thank those legislators who have listened to your conversations and heard your challenges, and have become steadfast supporters to make your lives and the lives of your children better,” said BAYADA Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro. Dave and other representatives from GAO partnered with Rhode Island Skilled (RIS) pediatrics Director Ashley Sadlier and her staff to make the event a success.

State Representative Gregg Amore was presented with a 2017 Legislative Advocacy Award for his tireless work to back the needs of his constituents and the many other residents of the state who use home care services on a daily basis. Senator Hannah Gallo was also recognized but could not be present. Additionally, Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mckee spoke about the important role home care plays in the lives of many Rhode Island residents.

Mr. Mckee and Rep. Amore continued to discuss the positive impact of home care, to the great interest of our clients and their families who were present in the audience. These families—the very people who rely on having nurses to provide clinical care to their loved ones—can offer firsthand testimony as to why home care is so vital.

Eric Olson—the father of client Liam and a long-time home care advocate—explained that the nurses who work with his son have such a connection with him. They understand that many of Liam’s movements are actually the way he communicates what kind of care he needs from moment to moment. He went on to explain that, without the close connection that the nurses have with his son, Liam would not be where he is today. With their help, he has thrived, despite his dependence on many mechanical devices. Eric went on to underscore how important it is that the families work with the elected officials, as they have the ability to make positive change.

“Our goal today was to bring enough of these voices together so we can start to make a difference.  Not just for families in this room, but for all families who want to keep their loved ones at home,” Dave said.  Side by side, BAYADA and the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care provide significant support to the goals of legislators and families who depend on home care. We are working together for a better tomorrow for all home care services in Rhode Island.

Bills in Motion at the NC General Assembly

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

  1. Certificate of Need (CON) under Attack  In the course of 48 hours 4 bills related to CON were filed to either eliminate or modify CON law. As any changes to CON will negatively impact our existing Medicare offices, our GAO Advisory Council identified protection of CON as a 2017 legislative goal. GAO continues to meet with the various bill sponsors to educate them the negative impact such changes would have on the home health industry. We continue to work behind-the-scenes to prevent their enactment.
  2. Medicaid Reform under Review  While the Medicaid Reform 1115 c Waiver application is being reviewed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), there is discussion of a new model emerging from Governor Roy Cooper’s office in conjunction with the General Assembly. GAO continues to work with legislative leaders and the department to ensure quality access to care exists in whatever model emerges.
  3. Trillium LME/MCO Proposed CAP-C/DA Pilot  Senator Michael Lee sponsored a bill to allow Trillium Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO), a managed mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disability payor, to administer a CAP-C/DA pilot in the coastal area. Analysis of the bill indicates this pilot would have a negative impact on recipients. GAO is working with the bill sponsor to explain the pitfalls of moving coastal recipients into a pilot when these individuals are currently transitioning into a new waiver.
  4. Opioid Bill’s Unintended Consequence  Representative Gregory Murphy sponsored a bill to tighten opioid prescriptions. While we support increased oversight for misuse of prescriptions drugs, the bills language, in its current state, will create a safe-haven for pillpushers. AHHC is taking the lead to work with the bill sponsor to modify the language to eliminate the loop-hole and craft a meaningful bill, as intended.

BAYADA Government Affairs Office Takes Ambassadors to Trenton, NJ

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

Advocacy with lawmakers is so important for our clients and families.  On March 22, Ambassador of the Year, Hudson County (HUD) Client Service Manager Ida Rodriquez, Perth Amboy (PER) Client Service Manager Julia Nelson, and Client Advocacy Manager Tara Montague accompanied me in Trenton where we met Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak and Senior Advisor to the Speaker Wayne Zitt. We discussed home health care and the need for higher reimbursement in order to pay higher wages for home health aides. As a result of the meeting, Assemblyman Karabinchak will co-sponsor A320 which sets a floor in managed care at the state’s fee for service rate. Senior Advisor Zitt will encourage the bill to be voted upon by the General Assembly. Both Ambassadors enjoyed the day in Trenton as they met many other legislators throughout the statehouse.

A Day in the Life of a Massachusetts Mom/Advocate

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On February 27, several BAYADA employees, home health care family members and others working toward getting a patient bill of rights passed, gathered at the state house in Boston to meet with legislators.  Lisa B. was en-route with her son, an adult home care client in his early 30s, and his son’s nurse.  Their goal for the day was to speak with different elected officials about the need for a rate increase for continuous skilled nursing services and to advocate for a patient bill of rights that is making its way through the legislative system toward becoming a law.  Just four miles from the state house, Lisa and the nurse saw that her son’s medical condition had changed and they quickly pulled their van over near the outskirts of a public park to help him.  He was struggling to breath due to a mucous plug.  In addition to this, he had lost control of his bowels.  As they pulled off the road, it happened to be near where an undercover police officer was working.  Startled by their presence, the officer approached them.  It took a bit, but Lisa and the nurse were able to clear the plug and get him back to a normal status.  They also changed his clothing and got everything back to normal.  The police officer was so motivated to help the family that he provided them with a police escort to the state house.  As a result of their dedication to the greater cause of helping people with special medical needs, they were still able to meet with senators and representatives and discuss the importance of home care nursing and the patient bill of rights from the perspective of the family.