Why is HealthChoices Delayed?

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

As many may know by now, the Department of Human Services recently announced they would delay and stagger the implementation of the new HealthChoices contracts. This was due to several bid protests and court battles currently working its way through the system.

This pushes the implementation to January of 2018.  The current plan is to rollout the new HealthChoices contracts:

January 2018                Southwest & Northwest

March 2018                   Northeast

July 2018                       Southeast

January 2019                Lehigh/Capitol

This will make the staggered roll-out similar to the Community HealthChoices implementation plan.

But why the delay?

Simply put, there are billions of dollars at stake.  The total funds available for HealthChoices are  estimated to be over $12 billion. So those organizations that do not win bids miss out on one of the largest state contracts in the US.

Number of Regions in Old ContractNumber of Regions in New Contract
Centene33
Health Partners12
United50
UPMC for You54
Keystone11
Gateway25
Aetna10
AmeriHealth32

This could also be one of the reasons why DHS is staggering the roll out. With the staggered roll out the Lehigh Capitol region transitions in January of 2019. This means that United and Amerihealth will get to keep their consumers for almost two years longer than originally anticipated.

We are still expecting court challenges which could delay the implementation further.

For your reference, I have included charts which details what MCOs were awarded what regions and the number of regions they were awarded.

GAO continues to monitor this situation and will update the pediatric leadership as more information becomes available.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Ambassador Spotlight: Proctor’s Immediate Passion for Advocacy is Palpable

 Submitted by Mike Sokoloski, Grassroots Manager (GAO)

Less than a week after the PA Ambassador Training, Mechanicsburg Pediatrics (MBP) Client Services Manager Candice Proctor made it clear that she was going to be at the forefront of our grassroots advocacy charge throughout the Commonwealth.  Candice reached out to State Representatives Rothman and Mehaffie and had her first legislative visit scheduled with State Rep. Mehaffie two weeks to the day following our training.

During the visit, Candice spoke to Pennsylvania’s pressing issues for BAYADA: an increase in the PAS rate and Equalized Access for constituents of the Representative looking for Home Care as an alternative to long-term institutionalized care.  As a follow-up, Candice invited him to attend a home visit in his district.

Rep. Rothman was a guest speaker at our PA Ambassador training. Candice took her advocacy efforts to the next level with this particular opportunity, having the Representative join her on a home visit! During the home visit Representative Rothman met Sophia, one the MBP office’s longtime clients. The visit was a success!. Not only does Representative Rothman now have a greater understand of the wide breadth of home care, but it has also affected him personally. Rep. Rothman said, “Sophia’s personality profoundly impacted me…It was an important visit.”

Recently, Candice was able to attend a House Democratic Caucus Meet & Greet in Harrisburg.  She was able to advocate and network with the Democratic leadership team and get an idea of how they work collaboratively with all interested parties, stakeholders, and constituents to help move Pennsylvania forward.  Candice hasn’t slowed down.  She is currently working with clients and families to participate in upcoming Advocacy Days in Harrisburg.

None of this would have been possible without the help and support of her office director Kim Auchey and the entire MBP team.  Advocacy is a group effort that is clearly alive and well in the MBP office!  Thank you for your support and commitment to advocacy at BAYADA.

Hearts for Homecare Ambassadors are Hard at Work

Submitted by Candice Proctor, Client Services Manager and GAO Ambassador (MBP)

​There is nothing more meaningful than caring for our clients daily and advocating for them and their families.

On Thursday, April 13, our Mechanicsburg, PA Pediatrics (MBP) office had the pleasure of hosting a visit from Pennsylvania Republican Representative Greg Rothman. We gave him a tour of our office, and then orchestrated a home visit with one of our families.

This was an immensely meaningful visit for all involved. When our legislators see firsthand the importance and impact of home care, they immediately understand why it’s meaningful and necessary. We could not be more grateful to have such a fantastic advocate in our nation’s capital.

It’s easy to see how happy Rep. Rothman’s visit made everyone. We’ll never stop working to make magic happen, because we know that, together, we can make a difference for our families and communities.

Mike Sokoloski Transitions to Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

​I am thrilled to announce that Mike Sokoloski transitioned from community liaison to join BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) team on Monday, March 13. He is the first manager of our grassroots advocacy efforts.

In this new role, Mike is responsible for overseeing and leading the work of BAYADA’s Hearts for Homecare, a companywide grassroots advocacy program that was created to support and help achieve our long-term vision. He will not only lead the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Program in five states—Delaware, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania—but will also create an outreach program to engage our field employees in advocacy. They are on the front lines of care delivery and, as many of our priorities directly impact them, this new program will give our field employees a voice to share their powerful stories. While Mike will report directly to me, he will support the other GAO state directors in their grassroots initiatives.

Prior to his transition, Mike was a community liaison for six years for two of BAYADA’s adult home care offices in northeastern PA, where he successfully managed relationships with referral sources in the community. Mike was appointed to the PA Long-Term Care Council in October of 2016 by Governor Tom Wolf as the only home care representative. He is an appointed member of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Board, serving since 2013. He is also vice-president of the Northeast PA Aging Network Alliance, promoting awareness of services and issues affecting older adults in northeastern PA.

As community liaison, Mike was no stranger to government affairs. For his efforts, he was named BAYADA’s Ambassador of the Year 2014 and 2015, and PA Ambassador of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. His past success makes him an excellent choice to boost our grassroots advocacy efforts.

Mike’s immediate areas of focus include enhancing the Ambassador Program through mentorship and support of our active Ambassadors, and developing an outreach platform—piloting it in Pennsylvania—to engage our field employees, who are an untapped voice for advocacy.

Please join me in welcoming Mike to GAO!

Ali Knott Named National Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year

Submitted by Dave Totaro, Chief Government Affairs Officer (GAO)

Delaware Pediatric North (DPN) Director Ali Knott last week was named the 2016 Government Affairs Office (GAO) Hearts for Home Care National Ambassador of the Year!

GAO had the distinct honor of recognizing Ali and four other passionate Ambassadors from our largest-footprint states—Delaware/Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—during our annual Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year awards celebration.

Over the last year, these Ambassadors of the Year connected with, and actively shared, BAYADA’s mission with legislators on behalf of our clients and caregivers.

Ali received the National award after being named the Delaware/Maryland Ambassador of the Year. Since becoming an Ambassador, she has been a consistent supporter and advocate in Delaware public life. In the fall, she and her son, Christopher, met with Senator (now Lt. Governor) Bethany Hall-Long and Senator Nicole Poore where they both made a strong impression on both legislators.

New Jersey Ambassador of the Year Ida Rodriguez, client services manager of Hudson County (HUD) assistive care state programs office, developed and strengthened a relationship with Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, which included a home visit with a HUD client. As a result, Assemblywoman Jimenez signed on as a co-sponsor to a vital piece of legislation that BAYADA supports – A320.

Melissa Zuzolo, director of Conover (CON) assistive care state programs and North Carolina Ambassador of the Year coordinated a home visit, served on the board of the BAYADA NC political action committee and represented BAYADA on the Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

Pennsylvania Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski was named state Ambassador for the final time. During 2016 he served as community liaison in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WBS) assistive care state programs office. Since then, Mike has transitioned his passion for advocacy into a new position within GAO as the new Grassroots Manager. While serving as an Ambassador in 2016, Mike served as a board member of the BAYADA PA political action committee, organized four legislative round tables, and was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf as the sole home care representative to the Governor’s Long-Term Care Council.

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U.S. Senator Tom Carper with the 2016 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year: Melissa Zuzolo (North Carolina), Ali Knott (Delaware/Maryland and National), Ida Rodriguez (New Jersey); Trisha Lasher (Rookie); and Mike Sokoloski (Pennsylvania)

Trisha Lasher, a nurse in the Berks County Visits (BRK) office was named National Rookie Ambassador of the Year. Trisha has the distinction of being our first field employee to serve as an Ambassador. She built a relationship with Representative Jim Cox that was instrumental in helping a client who had been hitting roadblocks for five years to finally get a chair glide installed in her home.

Honorees traveled to Washington, DC to celebrate their achievements. They enjoyed a private festive reception before heading to dinner and the awards presentation at Charlie Palmer Steak. 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.

Thank you to Ali, Ida, Melissa, Mike and Trisha, the GAO team, and to all of our 192 Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors for being the unified voice of our clients who can’t always speak up for themselves. It is with your support, and the support of our division directors and directors, that we will continue to make strides toward achieving our BAYADA vision of helping millions of people experience a better quality of life in the comfort of their own homes. After all, as our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors of the Year reminded us time and time again, advocacy is The BAYADA Way.

Pennsylvania House And Senate Appropriations Committees Host Marathon Hearings

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

Last week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee hosted hearings for the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. This was an opportunity for the various secretaries to defend the Governor’s proposed 2017-2018 budget.

Each hearing lasted for five hours and covered a variety of subjects.  Much of the discussion centered around the value of home care and Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour. During the hearing, DHS Secretary Ted Dallas acknowledged if the minimum wage is increased, the state will also need to increase reimbursement rates. Secretary Dallas claims a $12 minimum wage would lift 145,000 Pennsylvanians out of poverty and off of assistance. The secretary has calculated that it would save the state $48 million in DHS spending.

Community Home Care Support Group Meeting A Success In Hazleton, PA

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

Photo: Attendees of the support group meeting

On February 23, BAYADA sponsored a community client and family home care support group meeting at a hotel in West Hazleton, PA.  Parents, grandparents, home care staff and healthcare advocacy groups from different sectors of the community were all in attendance.  State Representative Tarah Toohil was the special guest speaker and was involved in an interactive discussion with everyone in attendance.   Families caring for loved ones with special medical needs had the opportunity to network and talk with other advocates and family members and learn of new ideas.  One of the main topics of discussion revolved around the need for more nurses in home health care.  The group is going to stay in contact through an email platform and share ideas, new events and information and reconvene in the spring at the next meeting.

Community Home Care Support Group Meeting A Success In Hazleton, PA

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On February 23, BAYADA sponsored a community client and family home care support group meeting at a hotel in West Hazleton, PA.  Parents, grandparents, home care staff and health care advocacy groups from different sectors of the community were all in attendance.  State Representative Tarah Toohil was the special guest speaker and was involved in an interactive discussion with everyone in attendance.   Families caring for loved ones with special medical needs had the opportunity to network and talk with other advocates and family members and learn of new ideas.  One of the main topics of discussion revolved around the need for more nurses in home health care.  The group is going to stay in contact through an email platform and share ideas, new events and information and reconvene in the spring at the next meeting.

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Attendees of the support group meeting

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.

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