A Season of Advocacy

Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors at the State Capitol

Over the past six months, GAO and our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors have been busy advocating on behalf of BAYADA’s clients and employees. Here is a brief look at our advocacy efforts in 2018 so far:

-19 Hearts for Home Ambassadors met with over 60 NJ legislators during our 2nd Annual New Jersey Advocacy Week.

-25 Ambassadors attended the Assembly vote to advocate for the Parking Accessibility Bill

-All NJ ACSP offices participated in a letter writing campaign to the Governor’s Office. Thank you to the many clients and aides who advocated for themselves, and to the directors for facilitating this campaign!

-8,600 emails were sent to key legislators and to the Governor’s Office urging them to support our PCA Budget Resolution. Thank you to all office and field employees who took action!

If you are interested in becoming a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, please contact Mike Sokoloski.

The Power of the PAC

When you think of the word “advocacy,” it may bring several different thoughts to your mind. Many think of our grassroots efforts, such as lobby days and action alert emails. You may thinkof a specific client who you advocate for every day in the work you do, or of a coworker who goes the extra mile to get involved. What may not immediately come to mind and what is equally important, however, are how our Political Action Committees (PACs) play a vital role in our advocacy efforts and our ability to affect change for our staff and clients by sharing our voices.

PACs are a tool that allow BAYADA to support our legislative champions who are supportive and sympathetic to our issues and the home care industry in general. In New Jersey in particular, we have supported 33 legislative events so far in 2018. These events, whether they are fundraisers, dinners, or meet-and-greets, give BAYADA an opportunity to even further engage with the legislators who are making laws that directly affect our clients and employees.

Christine Rios, Director of Morris Plains Pediatrics and our 2018 National Ambassador of the Year, knows first-hand the Power of the PAC:

Being a member of the PAC has given me the opportunity to attend numerous legislative events over the past several years. Attending these events repeatedly puts me front and center with the very legislators that are making decisions that directly affect our clients and employees every day. The more they see my face, the more likely they will remember me and the stories I’ve shared about our clients.. When they see that we support them as legislators, they will be more apt to support our issues in Trenton. The more we talk to them, the more confident and knowledgeable they will be about our issues. In terms of supporting our staff and clients, being a PAC member is priceless!

 Kim Flynn, a clinical manager at the WTP office, had similar experiences attending PAC-supported events. Through her attendance, she became more comfortable making sincere connections with her legislators, and those relationships in turn enabled her to urge them to support our legislative efforts, including advocating for rate adjustments and BAYADA’s Parking Placard bill.

Kim said, “I feel like I’m part of an exclusive club! The PAC has enabled me to meet my legislators and show them what home care means to their constituents. They really care about our issues, and the PAC gives us the face time required to really show them what we do for our clients.”

As BAYADA continues to grow to recruit more employees and care for more clients, it is becoming increasingly more important that we understand the power of advocacy in its totality. This means participation not only in grassroots efforts to educate our legislators about our issues, but also participation in PAC efforts which are vital in our ability to support our legislative champions.

All BAYADA employees are eligible to join the NJ PAC. Only full time, exempt, salaried employees are able to join BAYADA’s federal PAC due to regulations. Click here to join the PAC to support New Jersey legislators who support home care!

Parking Placard Bill Passes Legislature Unanimously!

Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors show up to support an important parking placard bill for NJ staff and clients

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 areas, caregivers must possess permits to drive and park legally in restricted areas. However, even with these permits, our nurses often receive tickets or even have their cars towed.

To address this issue, GAO worked with Assemblywoman Carol Murphy to introduce the Parking Placard Bill, which will enable health care workers to obtain parking placards that will allow them to park overnight on restricted streets, overtime at parking meters, and on college campuses.

The bill recently passed both houses of the legislatures unanimously, and now awaits Governor Murphy’s signature. This bill will take effect 18 months after it is signed into law.

We could not have done this without your advocacy! Thank you to the many New Jersey Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who went above and beyond in advocating for this important bill, which will help our staff and clients and save our service offices from paying unnecessary tickets and fees.

 

Approved State Budget Includes Reimbursement Rate Requirement

The New Jersey state legislature avoided a government shutdown when Governor Murphy signed the proposed budget into law late Sunday, July 1. The approved budget sets the state fee-for-service rate at $19.00 per hour and establishes a rate floor, which requires MCOs to reimburse home health care providers at no less than $16.00 an hour for personal care services.

GAO is continuing to work closely with legislators to further clarify the Personal Care Assistant (PCA) increase, which passed last year (A320). This clarification will address the direct and indirect costs that were overlooked by Governor Christie’s conditional veto last session. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to advocacy@bayada.com.

NJ Medicaid’s Steve Tunney Visits BAYADA for Presentation on MLTSS

On March 20, Steve Tunney and his team members from New Jersey Medicaid made the trip to the Contract Management Office (CMO) in Parsippany, NJ to present on the state’s Medicaid program, including Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS), respite care, and provider relations.

This thoughtful and thorough presentation was helpful in ensuring that we continue to efficiently navigate state regulations and resources in our pursuit of delivering compassionate and reliable care to our clients and communities. Thank you to Steve Tunney, Joe Bongiovanni, and Geralyn Molinari for joining us!

Ambassadors Prove they are Ready to Share their Voices at Ambassador Training

Dozens of NJ Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors gather for a day of advocacy training.

In the beginning of March, New Jersey Hearts for home Care Ambassadors gathered for 2018 Ambassador Training to brainstorm and reflect on the many ways in which we can effectively advocate on behalf of our field employees, our clients, and their families. Whether it was discussing phases of grassroots advocacy, the local and federal landscapes and initiatives, or specific lobbying strategies, ambassadors made one thing clear: They are passionate, dedicated, informed, and ready to be the advocates that BAYADA needs.

Throughout Ambassador Training, ambassadors approached legislative issues with many perspectives in mind. Three such perspectives were that of the client, the client’s family, and the field employee. While there are needs and priorities specific to each category, ensuing discussions made it increasingly clear just how connected each of these perspectives are. For example, by advocating for a higher reimbursement rate and living wages for nurses and aides, we are directly advocating

for higher quality care for our clients. In other words, ambassadors stressed the need to understand and believe that when it comes to improving access to and quality of home health care, we are in this together.

Katie Macklin of the Alzheimer’s Association joined us to further reinforce our connectedness. Providing our ambassadors with information about advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association, Katie identified the impact of organizing and mobilizing across organizations working for a common purpose: providing help and care to those who need it.

To tie in political and legislative perspectives, we were joined by New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and lobbyists Gene Mulroy and Paul Crupi. Each provided ambassadors with thoughtful and useful strategies for meeting with and educating legislators. By far the most effective tool we have, they argued, was the power of storytelling.

No one illustrated this point better than Dana Isley, a BAYADA client and parent to a medically complex child. Dana delivered a phenomenal and incredibly moving speech about her home visit with a legislator during which she detailed some of the challenges that she and her daughter, Abi, face. Incredibly impacted by Dana and Abi’s story during this home visit, her legislator acted quickly to provide them resources and support. Dana’s story reiterates a vital point: Your stories make the biggest difference.

At the heart of this collaborative event was an understanding that relationships drive advocacy. Ambassadors’ motivation to advocate stemmed from their sense of dedication and deep closeness to those they care for. With this motivation, they are driven to form relationships with their legislators to advocate for their staff and clients. Our ambassadors continue to show that it only takes one person and one action to make a difference.

 

Assemblywoman Speight Meets ESS Client on Home Visit

Assemblywoman Shanique Speight is new to the state legislature, which makes it all the more important to introduce her to home care right away.

Essex County State Assistive Care (ESS) Director Lisa Minnella and her Clinical Manager Bonnie Caterson arranged for the assemblywoman to meet one of their special clients, 92-year-old Ms. Tisdale. Ms. Tisdale lives in Assemblywoman Speight’s district and has no family in the area. She needs certified home health aide (CHHA) services to assist her with the tasks she cannot do and help her be as independent as she can be in her own home.

The assemblywoman was very happy to meet Ms. Tisdale and spend time learning more about how home care services benefit her constituents and keep so many seniors in their homes.

Picture: ESS Director Lisa Minnella and Assemblywoman Speight with Ms. Tisdale

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.

Client & Family Stories: Meet Tara Montague

Tara is an advocate for her family, and yours.

NJ Assemblywoman Carol Murphy with home care advocate Tara and daughter Mary, who has SMA
NJ Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (right) learned about the benefits of home care when she visited Mary and Tara at their home.

Last summer, as lawmakers in Washington, DC debated health care reform, Tara Montague had cause for concern. The proposed legislation included significant cuts to Medicaid, which for Tara and her family, could have been disastrous.

Tara and her husband, Jim, rely on home care nursing for their daughter Mary, 20, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). They know that many families turn to Medicaid to cover the cost of home care and feel fortunate to have private insurance for Mary’s nurses. However, they depend on Medicaid for Mary’s prescriptions and medical equipment, which total in the thousands each month.

“Mary is on numerous medications, and her medical equipment includes a ventilator, oxygen, a wheelchair and hospital bed, feeding pump supplies, a nebulizer, pulse oximeter machine, and more,” said Tara. “Without Medicaid, I don’t know what we’d do, and that’s why I fight so hard to get Mary the benefits she needs.”

Giving families a voice

As a parent of a child with special needs, Tara can understand and empathize with our clients’ daily struggles because she lives it, every day. Last year, she joined BAYADA’s Government Affairs office as manager of client and family advocacy. Here, she continues to fight for Mary, and for every pediatric and adult client who depends on home health care to live with comfort, independence, and dignity.

“Last summer I worked with BAYADA clients who were willing to share their stories with federal legislators to help prevent the Medicaid cuts,” said Tara. “As I continue to grow in this new role, I hope to encourage more and more families to speak up, to have a voice, and to know that they can make a huge difference in the legislative process.”

Getting involved is quick and easy

Tara knows all too well that for clients and families, the biggest obstacle to getting involved is time. That’s why she encourages them to register with BAYADA’s Hearts for Home Care Advocacy Center at heartsforhomecare.com.

We are not looking for a huge time commitment, it’s whatever they feel comfortable with doing,” she said.

The mission of Hearts for Home Care is to be a voice for BAYADA employees, clients, and their families. Through education, advocacy, research, and community service, BAYADA advocates for policies that support the highest quality of home health care services. The online advocacy center keeps clients and families informed about legislative issues at the state and federal level that can impact the home health care industry, and their access to care.

Advocacy can be a simple as taking five minutes to log onto the Hearts for Home Care Advocacy Center website and sending a pre-written email to local, state, and federal legislators. If clients and families want to do more, they can share their stories on the Hearts for Home Care Advocacy Center website; attend a lobby day at their state capital, a legislative round table, or a town hall; they can visit a legislator’s office; or invite a legislator into their home to see, first hand, how home health care professionals help improve lives.

Connecting with families and sharing stories

Tara has a degree in political science and extensive experience in marketing. In her previous role as a community liaison with a BAYADA Pediatrics office in New Jersey, she educated physicians about home health care, started a parent support group, coordinated a family resource fair, and helped families navigate through insurance challenges.

In her new role she hopes to develop training materials and tools for clients and families who want to become more active in advocacy efforts. But even more, she is looking forward to getting to know clients and families from across the country, and helping to share their stories – just like Mary’s.

To learn more about Hearts for Home Care, how you can get involved with advocacy, or how you can share your story, contact Tara at tmontague@bayada.com.