Lotus Ladies Connect with the Republican Women of the PA House of Representatives

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

Government Affairs Office (GAO) Senior Associate Alisa Borovik, Senior Manager Emilie Bartolucci and I spent an evening at the Pennsylvania Homecare Association headquarters near Harrisburg with house republican Representatives.  During the event, we had the opportunity to thank our current sponsors of our presumptive eligibility legislation and discuss the need to increase the personal assistant services rate for our aides.  The event was well attended by over 10 republican legislators.

Aides Cried Tears of Joy for Much-deserved Raises throughout North Carolina’s Assistive Care State Programs Offices

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO) and Shannon McCarson, Regional Director, Dogwood Group (DOG)

We worked together and made it possible. After many years of advocating for higher reimbursement rates within the state Medicaid programs, we finally received an increase in the hourly rate for personal care services (PCS). This achievement was made possible through the persistent advocacy efforts of our employees, clients, families, and government affairs team. Our Hearts for Home Care Advocates participated in email campaigns, home visits, legislative roundtables, home care lobby days in Raleigh, and professional lobbying efforts.

As a result of working together, this week assistive care state programs directors throughout the state were thrilled to pass along an increase to our deserving CNAs and HHAs who care for our Medicaid clients and have stuck with us through thick and thin.

Directors have been personally speaking to staff to share the great news. “One by one, as I spoke to our aides, I heard the same thing – gratitude, appreciation, tears of joy, and, yes relief, too,” said Mimosa (MIM) Division Director Joe Seidel. “The low Medicaid reimbursement rate made it impossible to pay more. I am glad to do it now.” This rate increase is a good place to start, and more needs to be done.

Let’s keep the momentum going by joining to be a Hearts for Home Care Advocate. We believe our aides deserve even more for the important work they do in keeping our clients safe at home. If you are not already part of our advocacy group, join today at heartsforhomecare.com to receive alerts that could influence future efforts to increase pay rates.

 

Advocacy Efforts in Massachusetts Gaining Publicity

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy (GAO)

As advocacy efforts continue to progress toward a State Medicaid rate increase for nursing services, to help individuals with complex medical needs, excitement around the movement throughout Boston and much of the state is starting to build.  On July 30, the Boston Globe featured a lead article about one of the families most effected by the matter.  The article showed how this family has not had nursing coverage in more than 100 consecutive days because of the low Medicaid reimbursement rates.  Two days later, WGBH-TV of Boston ran an on-air piece featuring the Mom from the Globe article and another Mom who is a leading advocate showing the urgency that the 900 plus Massachusetts families needing home care nursing services are facing on a daily basis.

Lend Your Voice to Help MA Families: Moving Globe Article Highlights State’s Shortfalls

Submitted by Conner Sheets, Intern, Government Affairs (GAO)

The Boston Globe recently published a touching and impactful article detailing the plight of Noelia Ferreira and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Abi. The article detailed Noelia’s painful balancing act between being Abi’s mother and her nurse, and the anxiety she feels knowing that someone better trained should be taking care of Abi’s medical needs. While Abi qualifies for the care that would give Noelia a much needed sense of relief and reassurance, MA does not currently offer funding that attracts the qualified nurses necessary to provide the kind of care Abi needs. Noelia is not looking for any special consideration; she only wants the care that the state has already approved, care she has gone without for more than 150 days. (See the full Globe article here).

The lack of available medical professionals in MA is being felt by more than just the Ferreira’s. The abysmal reimbursement rates in the state leave providers with no means of meeting the care needs of the 900 people who need care in MA. Without an increase in the rates, families like Noelia’s will continue to go without the care they so desperately need. You can all help in the effort to get that increase. Go to mychildcantwait.com and tell Governor Baker to fund the critical CSN program!

Successful Family Day Event in PA

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

On July 27, staff from the Government Affairs Office (GAO): Mike Sokoloski, Laura Ness, Tara Montague, and I coordinated an event at Temple University in Philadelphia entitled, Family Day.  This event brought together CRO families, legislators, field staff and office staff, including some of our ambassadors,  with the goal of bringing attention to the need for an OLTL personal assistance rate increase.  The event was highlighted by a client presentation, legislative presentations, and focus group meetings where stories of how a rate increase would improve quality of care.

 

Whirlwind Tour Through the Carolinas

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

Last week, Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and I started our three-day trip across the Carolinas in Columbia with a productive meeting on rates with Bryan Kost, Chief Legislative Liaison SC Department of Health & Humans Services.  We are looking for support for a rate increase for next session.  Further, as a way to connect with staff on issues and share our advocacy message, we visited our offices in Columbia, Charleston, Southport, and Fayetteville.  These round table discussions help us better understand care delivery challenges and identify ways we can help.  Lastly, we were thrilled to have met Brock, an adorable 18 month-old boy, and his family near Charleston.  After 9 months in the hospital, he was ready to come home with the support of nursing.  Home visits remind us why we go to work every day and how important it is for each of us to advocate for quality home health care.

Personal Care Assistant Fee-for-Service Rate Increased in NJ State Budget

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

On July 3, Governor Christie signed the NJ budget which contains a budget resolution to increase the Personal Care Assistant rate under fee-for-service. I am happy to inform you the NJ PCA fee-for-service rate is now $19.00 per hour. The new rate is effective as of July 1, 2017.
This is largely due to the support of BAYADA leadership, the directors and their office staff, and our wonderful Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors who made legislative office visits, held legislative roundtables, and offered home visits advocating for our clients and families. Great advocacy efforts by all!

Reporting Success with Help from our Hearts for Home Care Advocates

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

With active engagement from our Ambassadors and other Hearts for Home Care advocates, together we accomplished the following legislative wins:

·         Obtained an Aide Rate Increase                                  
Lawmakers passed a rate increase for aides services in two (2) Medicaid program – Personal Care Services (PCS) and the Community Alternatives Program for Children (CAP-C) – taking the rate from $13.88 to $15.52, effective July 1, 2017, and to $15.60, effective January 1, 2018.  Due to a technical issue around budget neutrality, an increase was not passed for CAP for disabled adults (CAP-DA). However, we have the commitment of both the General Assembly as well as the Department to institute a fix in the 2018 session.     
Provision successfully passed the General Assembly
·         Protected Certificate of Need (CON) Once Again
There were as many as four bills introduced, but not passed, related to CON to either eliminate or modify CON law. As any change to remove or minimize CON law will negatively impact our existing Medicare offices, GAO will continue to work collaboratively with other health care settings behind-the-scenes to prevent the erosion of CON. Educating lawmakers on its implications is key.  
Provision successfully excluded
·         ID/DD Individuals to Access Services
A budget provision added some 400 slots to the Innovations Waiver program. Originally the provision included 250 slots. After lobbying, discussion, and debate that number was increased. While it won’t completely address the 900 individuals on the waiting list, these additional slots will help our HAB practice provide services to individuals in need.    
Provision successfully passed the General Assembly
·         Medicaid Reform Remains In Play
GAO was invited to a meeting with Secretary Mandy Cohen and Medicaid Director Dave Richard to discuss their plans to align mental health and physical health more quickly than 3 years after transition to managed care. In the development of this new waiver, they intend to include stakeholders as well as other protections. 
Bill is eligible to be taken up during a Special Session

North Carolina Budget Released

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

On June 19, lawmakers released a $23 billion budget for 2017-2019. Below are some of the provisions impacting us:

  • Increased Personal Care Services Rate: This provision increases the Medicaid rate for aide services under the Personal Care Services (PCS) program and the Community Alternatives Program for Children (CAP-C). The rate will increase from $13.88 to $15.50 (July 1, 2017) and $15.60 (January 1, 2018) pending approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Much to our disappointment, CAP-DA was left out of the budget. A technical issue made it difficult to increase the CAP-DA rate within the established budget neutrality requirement. A rate increase would have meant fewer authorized hours for clients to stay within overall program requirements. BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office continues to work on a solution.
  • Protected the certificate of need (CON) for home health care from being eliminated.
  • Expanded Innovations Waiver slots: This provision added 400 additional Innovations Waiver slots across the state.

NC Budget Writers are Behind Closed Doors

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

Budget negotiations are underway between the House and Senate to iron out the differences between their respective budget bills. Both contain funds for an increase to the Personal Care Services (PCS) program aide rate from $13.88 to between $15.52 and $15.78. BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) continues to work with key lawmakers to garner support for an amendment to add funds to cover aide services under the Community Alternative Programs for Children (CAP-C) and Disabled Adults (CAP-DA). Language has been drafted and is being circulated. Budget writers are working behind closed doors as House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger have instructed conference chairs to have their committee reports completed by the end week.