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!

NJ GAO Advocacy Week Ambassador Experience

Submitted by Allison Nulton, Associate (TRP)

​During BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) NJ Advocacy Week, I was excited to embark on my first experience as a BAYADA Ambassador.

On Tuesday, May 2, GAO Community Liaison Tara Montague, Toms River, NJ (TR) assistive care state programs Client Services Manager Rebecca Capuano, and I met with Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove from District 9. We had the opportunity to advocate for the clients we serve and ask the legislators to support raising the rate floor for NJ’s personal care assistant program in Managed Medicaid to the state’s fee-for-service rate.

We also asked them to support a $10-an-hour fee-for-service increase in private duty nursing. Both Senator Connors and Assemblywoman Gove were very receptive to the stories we shared about our clients and the challenges they face daily, and were open to having a round-table discussion in the future.

I also met with Senator Thompson from District 12 on Friday, May 5 to discuss the issues we face in the home care setting.  Senator Thompson, GAO Director Louise Lindenmeier, and I discussed a variety of issues that impact home care. We invited Senator Thompson for a home visit in the near future. We hope to schedule one soon!

I am excited for future visits to advocate for our clients, families, and field staff and to raise awareness about the support that is needed to continue providing excellent home care The BAYADA Way.

South Carolina Legislative Day a Success

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

Small and Mighty

Last month South Carolina joined the ranks of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania by hosting its first annual lobby day. All participants dressed in BAYADA red, and our smiles were seen and felt as our eight BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors spread our common message—home care keeps families together, and creates jobs in the community while saving the state money.

“I was thrilled to join our small-but-strong BAYADA team in Columbia, SC as we continue to build our fledgling advocacy program,” said Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro. “It is exciting to see the enthusiasm from our SC team as they advocate for our clients and staff, and the very positive reception we got from the legislators and their teams. I am very optimistic about our future in SC.”

During the one-day event, our delegation reached 30 lawmakers, including key house and senate leaders who oversee the Medicaid programs. Medicaid rates are one of the lowest in the nation, and making a connection with members is a great start to resolving that.

Division Director Melissa Allman understands the important role advocacy plays in the political process. She shared, “Building our brand goes hand-in-hand with building relationships with lawmakers. They are responsible for the rates.”

Our advocacy day was a great first step in garnering support for home care. Our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors plan to schedule home and district visits with members over the summer to keep the momentum of our outreach efforts going.

 

Quotes from attendees:

  • Associate Director Nicole Lugo: “Making a personal connection with a lawmaker is simpler than you think. They are people too.”
  • Associate Director Stephanie Black: “This was my first experience and I loved it! I’m convinced the more they know us, the more they’ll see the impact on families, the more they’ll invest in home care.”
  • Associate Director Amy Ramey: “Every senator and representative I spoke with had a story about a family member or friend who has received or is in need of services. I was honored to be a voice for our clients.”
  • Associate Director Cari Altom: “I was impressed that members actually left session to come speak with us in the lobby. Glad I came.”

BAYADA Hosts First PA Virtual Lobby Day April 26th-28th

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

As you know, April 25th is Lobby Day in Harrisburg with the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

To magnify our impact, we are asking that all staff, especially those unable to be in Harrisburg in person contact their State Representative and State Senator between April 26th and April 28th and ask them to support our issues.

Our message is simple.

“On Tuesday, April 25th my colleagues came to Harrisburg to discuss a variety of issues impacting home care. Home care is a 24/7 job and I was unable to join my colleagues because I was assisting Pennsylvanians receive the quality, cost-effective home care they need.”

We have created an easy template with additional information for you to follow. Please take two minutes to call or email your legislators to urge them to support BAYADA and PHA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of our clients and the staff who care for them.

Look for the email from GAO on April 26th.

PA Ambassador Named 2017 BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Rookie of the Year

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

 Each year the Government Affairs Office (GAO) selects one outstanding Ambassador as their Rookie of the Year. The individual honored must be a new Ambassador who has made an impact on clients’ lives and on the Ambassador program.

As GAO discussed the nominees it was evident that Berks County Visits (BRK) Nurse Trisha Lasher was the clear winner.  Trisha is an RN and was BAYADA’s first field employee to serve as a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador.

While she was nervous about her first meeting with a legislator, she decided to keep her commitments as promised and do it on her own. We are so happy she did because she hasn’t stopped since. Trisha started by visiting Representative Jim Cox (R) in his district, and followed up with him later that year in Harrisburg at Lobby Day. She wrote about her experience in the BAYADA Bulletin, which prompted a joint home visit with Representative Cox and the Reading Adult (RAD) Office. Because of the relationship she has built with Representative Cox, he took immediate action to help an adult client when he visited her.

The client had been trying to get a chair glide installed in her house for five years. After the visit, Representative Cox made several calls to service coordinators, found systemic fraud and flaws in the system, and was able to get the client the chair glide within six weeks of the home visit.

Building on their relationship, Representative Cox agreed to write letters of support for our pediatric rate increase and the Medicaid spend-down issue.

To further her advocacy efforts, as election time rolled around and GAO hosted the Bring the Vote Home Campaign, Trisha enlisted the help of all the office staff to call all clients. They educated clients on voting, the PHA voter guide, and let them know about absentee ballots. Trisha then organized field employees to deliver absentee ballots.

From building relationships to advocating for clients’ needs, Trisha has shown her dedication to being an excellent Hearts for Home Care Ambassador.

Honorees traveled to Washington, DC to celebrate their achievements. They enjoyed a private festive reception before heading to dinner and the awards presentation at a local restaurant. Senator Tom Carper joined the group to address some of the major issues affecting health care at the federal level, and to congratulate our Ambassador of the Year awardees. Before heading home, Ambassadors and their guests also spent time touring the city with stops including the White House, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the US Capitol.

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.

Rate Increase Discussions Underway in North Carolina

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

GAO has been working collaboratively with the Association for Home & Hospice Care (AHHC) laying the groundwork for an increase this legislative session. As approved by our GAO Advisory Council, we are seeking to increase the aide rate under 3 programs and 2 settings from $13.88 to $17.00, over a 2-year period ($15.50 and $17.00). Substantive conversations with key lawmakers are gaining traction. This increase is a huge lift at $23.9M each year. Our legislative day, scheduled for May 17, will focus on garnering broad support for this much needed increase. Legislative Day registration is coming soon.

 

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.

BAYADA Sponsors Second Lobby Day in Massachusetts

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

The Government Affairs Office (GAO) organized a second lobby day for continuous skilled nursing providers and parents to discuss our Patient Bill of Rights.  With over 27 meetings scheduled, we focused on meeting with our legislators that sit on important committees and introduced our need to file a budget amendment to support the increased reimbursement rate needed to compete for a median of nurses.  The day was successful, as we lined up House and Senate budget amendment sponsors and additional co-sponsors for the bill.  As stated by the lobbyists from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, we “have set a solid foundation to build upon.” Next, we wait to see where the House will assign the bill and wait for a budget hearing.

Making Progress On Equalizing Access To Home And Community-Based Services in PA

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

As a result of a legislative roundtable planned by 2015 Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski, Representative Aaron Kaufer became very interested in helping us equalize access to home and community-based services.  Since then, Representative Kaufer has arranged meetings with executive directors from various legislative committees and made the first attempt at legislation.  He also spoke with the chair of the Public Health Committee Representative Matt Baker.  Due to our consistent follow-up, Representative Baker has decided to take up our issue himself with the support of Representative Kaufer.  We are working with him to craft legislation and look forward to working with him throughout the legislative process.

Register for PA Lobby Day in Harrisburg