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.

PA Governor Tom Wolf Announces Plan to Consolidate Departments Crucial to Home Care

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

During Governor Tom Wolf’s budget address, he proposed consolidating the Department of Human Services (formerly known as the Department of Public Welfare) the Department of Aging, the Department of Health, and the Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs.  If the consolidation goes through it will be called the PA Department of Health & Human Services.  It will also be one of the largest state agencies in the United States.  There are concerns by many advocacy groups that this could lead to additional bureaucracy and more items getting “lost in the shuffle”.  Wolf claims the consolidation will lead to seniors and disabled individuals having greater support and coordination of benefits.  BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) will continue to track this proposal and evaluate the impact.  To read the full announcement click here.

CRO Division Uniting With Philadelphia Families In Advocacy

Submitted by Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

Director of Government Affairs in Pennsylvania Laura Ness and I met with Division Director Kevin Kuzmick and several of the service office directors from the CRO division at the Government Affairs Office (GAO) this past Wednesday.  The meeting focused on the development of advocacy efforts for the clients and families who receive assistive care services from the Office of Long Term Living waiver in the Philadelphia area service offices.  An exciting outcome from the meeting was the idea of having a “family day” in the Philadelphia area where our families and staff can advocate for a better tomorrow.

NC Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Announced

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

Dr. Mandy Cohen has been appointed by NC Governor Roy Cooper as the new Department of Health & Human Services Secretary to lead Medicaid.  Cohen, an internist, carries a wealth of experience and knowledge having recently served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Baltimore.  She plans to partner with healthcare providers, consumers, regulators, and lawmakers for a healthier state. BAYADA submitted formal comments on four Medicaid clinical policies.  Special thanks to the division director review teams for their insight and guidance in drafting these recommendations.

Caption: Dr. Mandy Cohen

Client Advocacy Gains Ground in NJ and PA

Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ and Rick Hynick, Director, Client and Family Advocacy

Client and Family Advocacy Manager Tara Montague has been busy visiting service offices with Government Affairs Office (GAO) Director Louise Lindenmeier to talk about client and family advocacy and the Hearts for Home Care program. So far, we’ve managed to visit with nine offices with more being scheduled every day.

Additionally, on January 27, GAO Director Rick Hynick had the pleasure of meeting with Kim Minor, Pennsylvania’s Northeast Regional Coordinator for the Special Kids Network (SKN). SKN helps to identify services for children and families who care for individuals with physical, developmental, behavioral, and emotional needs. Supporting families in overcoming their challenges by utilizing community support services is a large part of what SKN accomplishes on a daily basis. SKN will be working with BAYADA by promoting home care advocacy as they will be attending and taking part in our community home care support group meetings.

Overall, our offices are excited about having our clients be more involved in our advocacy efforts and supporting our legislative visits.