The facts are clear: Home care is less expensive than hospital or other institutional care. Plus, it enables medically complex children and adults to remain at home amongst their loved ones. But because the State of South Carolina has not increased reimbursement rates for skilled nursing home care services since 2008, families are finding it increasingly harder to access the skilled, high quality care that they need to stay as independent as possible in their communities.
State funding for home care has not been increased in more than a decade. At the same time, hospitals and other facilities have been steadily able to increase wages. Even more so, nurses can make more in home care in surrounding states. Now, home care providers find that they can compete for less than a quarter of all the nurses available in South Carolina. When agencies face such recruitment and retention struggles, home care recipients and their families suffer.
When there are less home care nurses available, families find that they experience missed shifts, which can not only create undue stress and chaos as loved ones must miss work, lose out on sleep, and forego other necessary activities—but it also puts the client in danger. For those who need skilled nursing care, missed shifts can mean dangerous consequences, including trips to the ER and unnecessary hospitalizations.
Even more so, many major home care providers have already left South Carolina because of the low funding for home care. Stagnant rates that are more than a decade old make keeping their doors open unsustainable. As more and more agencies leave the state, the harder it is for families to access care. Simply put, if the State does not take action to increase funding for home care, South Carolina’s most medically complex and vulnerable families will have few options for care.
South Carolina’s concerned families are making their voices heard: They are reaching out to their legislators and media to share their message: Increase funding for home health care so that families can access the high quality, reliable care that they need to be where they want to be: At home.
Submitted by Louise Lindenmeier, Director, NJ Government Affairs (GAO)
On November 7, voters elected nomineePhil Murphy to serve as the state’s 56th Governor starting this January through 2022. Governor-elect Murphy chose Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver to serve as Lieutenant Governor. Assemblywoman Oliver served as Speaker of the Assembly for four years. All 120 of the legislative seats were also up for election. The democrats increased their majorities in both houses where they will control the Senate 25-15, and the Assembly 52-28. BAYADA is looking forward to the new administration to support home health care and help us deal with the many challenges of managed Medicaid, access to care, and increasing wages for our field staff through higher reimbursement under Medicaid and waiver programs.
Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ (GAO)
I had the pleasure of hosting Carol Murphy, Assembly candidate in Legislative District 7, for a home visit to meet my daughter Mary. As a 20 year long client of Mt. Laurel Pediatrics (MLP), Mary is the epitome of what home care can help families to achieve and we wanted Ms. Murphy to experience that first-hand. Clinical Manager Chantel Denny and Administrative Coordinator Brooke Fitzpatrick discussed some of the challenging staffing issues that occur due to low reimbursement rates and difficulty attracting qualified nurses. Registered Nurse Stacey Sutton shared some of the varied tasks that she performs in order to keep Mary healthy and safe at home and at school. Ms. Murphy made a commitment, if elected to work with us to make home health care nursing a more attractive career option in the state.
Submitted by Tara Montague, Manager, Client and Family Advocacy, NJ (GAO)
District 6 Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt got quite an education when she visited with 14 year old Mt. Laurel Pediatrics (MLP) client Juan M and his mother, Carmen. The Assemblywoman stopped by the house at the same time as nurse Danielle Blackwas administering Juan’s many respiratory treatments. MLP Clinical Manager Crystal Lee explained to Assemblywoman Lampitt the purpose behind each piece of equipment and treatment and how important the routine is to maintaining Juan’s health. The client’s mother Carmen said she is a single-parent and without having nursing in place she would not be able to keep her son at home with her. Carmen, Crystal, and Client Services Manager Michelle Moran took turns sharing the difficulties of staffing such a high-tech case and how low reimbursement rates negatively affect clients. Carmen shared with the Assemblywoman that she is currently looking for a part-time position but is having difficulty due to the fact that her schedule needs to remain flexible to accommodate the nursing schedule and Juan’s various medical needs. The visit was a great success in enlightening Assemblywoman Lampitt on the needs of some of her most vulnerable constituents.
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.
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!
Submitted by Louise Lindenmeier, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)
As we continue on our PCA journey for increased reimbursement rates, the next effort to increase the PCA reimbursement rate now sits on the governor’s desk. A320/S1018 would require the minimum reimbursement rate for PCA in managed Medicaid to be no lower than the state’s fee-for-service rate. Currently, we are asking all the PCA aides and clients to sign and send letters to the governor’s office, urging him to sign the legislation into law.
Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)
Recently, Community Liaison and 2016 BAYADA Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski hosted a roundtable with PA Representative Aaron Kaufer. BAYADA started building a relationship with Representative Kaufer before he was elected to the General Assembly. As a result of our relationship, Representative Kaufer took an interest in our issues early on and learned more about the state’s human services programs.
During the roundtable, we spoke about our need for increased reimbursement rates for personal assistant services under the Office of Long-Term Living and the need to equalize access to home and community based service by allowing presumptive eligibility*. Equalizing access was an issue of great interest to Representative Kaufer, and since the roundtable, the Government Affairs Office (GAO) has been in touch with the Representative multiple times to determine next steps in the process.
GAO looks forward to working with Representative Kaufer and others to ensure presumptive eligibility is allowed for home health care in the state.
*Presumptive eligibility: Individuals can be presumed eligible for Medicaid services while their full application is being processed. Presumptive eligibility grants greater access to care and allows the individual to receive medically necessary treatment.