South Carolina Families Suffer as Reimbursement Rates Stay Stagnant for Over a Decade

Home care clients like Rashad (right) can stay at home with skilled nursing care, but a lack of state funding is making it more difficult for many South Carolinians
Home care clients like Rashad (right) can stay at home with skilled nursing care, but a lack of state funding is making it more difficult for many South Carolinians

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.

To find out how you can get involved in advocacy, contact us at advocacy@bayada.com today.

25 BAYADA Advocates Gather for Inspiring and Record-Breaking Legislative Day in Columbia, SC

Top left & bottom right: 25 BAYADA employees and clients joined the South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association’s second annual Legislative Advocacy Day
Top right: Stephanie Black, Vickie Nelson, Dave Totaro, and Melissa Allman meet with Senator Thomas Nelson (center)
Bottom left: BAYADA Rock Hill (ROC) office employees pose in front of the SC capitol. Left to right: Nurse Michelle Ghent, Director Jenni Cairns, and nurse Cathy Medeiros (2017 LPN National Hero)

On March 6, 24 energetic BAYADA employees and one BAYADA Assistive Care State Programs (ACSP) client gathered in South Carolina’s state capitol for a day of meaningful and heartfelt advocacy. The South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association (SCHCHA) hosted its second annual Legislative Advocacy Day, and this year, a record-breaking total of nearly 60 advocates attended!

BAYADA’s advocates joined other attendees and walked the halls with a clear message: Investing in our Nursing Medicaid Waiver programs will save the state money and keep our medically fragile children, disabled adults, and seniors home with their loved ones and out of higher cost facilities.  We care about home care, and so should you!

With their passionate message in hand, advocates spoke with over 50 legislators about the importance of home care. This year we were able to speak to all key lawmakers in both the House and Senate to ensure our message was heard by as many ears–and the right ears–as possible.

“Advocacy can’t be effective with only one person working towards a goal–one voice can only go so far! That’s why I am so proud to work in South Carolina, where so many of our office employees, field employees, and clients recognize the importance of sharing their voices too. The more impassioned people we have involved, the more of a difference we can make on behalf of all South Carolinians that rely on home care,” said GAO director Melissa Allman.

BAYADA employees were excited and inspired by the impact they made that day. Thank you to the many participants for the difference you make on behalf of all South Carolinians that rely on home care to stay independent in their communities!

BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office Expands into Georgia!

BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) is excited to announce its expansion into Georgia! BAYADA’s current footprint in Georgia includes two pediatric offices and one adult office, which employ 253 field staff and 28 office employees, and care for 131 clients combined. Expansion into the Peach State means that GAO can begin directly lobbying state lawmakers for better home care policies and reimbursement rates, and can begin to directly involve Georgia staff, clients, and families in advocacy efforts.

BAYADA had its first advisory council meeting with Georgia leadership on July 24th to discuss the issues that Georgia’s service office regularly face and how GAO can best support their needs. The advisory council is chaired by Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and comprises of BAYADA leadership in the state, GAO Director for South Carolina and Georgia, Melissa Allman, and Area Director Lee Dobson. The advisory council meets regularly to determine legislative priorities, discuss progress towards our goals, and determine next steps.

Dahlia Division Director Tammie Craddock stated, “We are so excited to have the support of GAO so we can finally be the advocates that the adult nursing population in Georgia deserves!  We know that the choices are limited for clients who age out of the Georgia Pediatric Program, but the need still exists. We are hopeful with the help of GAO we can generate a greater impact on lawmakers and assist families by providing more options for in home care after the age of 21.”

Be sure to check out GAO’s biweekly Heartbeat to see new updates on our progress in Georgia!

Thank you to all our Advisory Council Members for your input and participation! We are excited to work towards better rates and policies on behalf of all Georgia’s staff and clients!

South Carolina Representative Garry Smith Visits Local Family to Learn How Home Care Impacts his Constituents

Rep. Garry Smith (left) visits home health care client Emma (held), mom Gina (right) and their in-home BAYDA nurse Danielle (second from left).
Rep. Garry Smith (left) visits home health care client Emma (held), mom Gina (right) and their in-home BAYDA nurse Danielle (second from left).

 

South Carolina State Representative Garry Smith (R, District 27) visited a local family in his district to learn how his constituents and many South Carolinian families rely on home care to keep their loved ones together at home and out of more expensive settings. Rep. Smith is one of the many legislators that Hearts for Home Care advocates bring into home care clients’ homes to show them how federal, state, and local policies affect home care recipients and their families.

During his visit, Rep. Smith met 21-month old BAYADA Home Health Care client Emma Ferguson, Emma’s mother Gina, and Emma’s in-home BAYADA Nurse Danielle Rian. Emma was born with a Chronic Lung Disease of Prematurity, which causes Emma to experience severe breathing problems, pain, and other symptoms. At her young age, Emma has already had several surgeries and currently still requires use of a Gastrostomy-Jejunostomy (G-J) Tube to assist with her feedings and medication management throughout the day. At birth, state Medicaid authorized Emma to receive private duty nursing (PDN) services in her home so that Emma can remain safely and comfortably at home with her mother.

In March, Emma’s PDN services were terminated when Medicaid determined that her skill level no longer qualified her to receive care in her home. From March until May, Emma attended a local day care facility for children with complex needs so that her mother could continue to work. During this time, Emma was hospitalized on several occasions and required ventilator support due to respiratory illness. In May 2018, Emma’s mother Gina reapplied for PDN services, and Emma was able to start receiving care at home again. Emma currently receives 32 hours of PDN services in her home, and since the reauthorization, she has not been readmitted to the hospital.

Emma’s mother Gina stated, “I’m grateful Rep. Smith was able to visit our home to see how Emma and other medically-complex children can grow up and thrive with in-home nursing. These kids deserve some normalcy in their lives, and I have seen first-hand how much better she does when she can be with me at home rather than in an institution. She only receives 32 hours a week, and this allows her to receive the care she needs in the best place–her home–and allows me to be able to work to support my family.”

After the home visit, Rep. Smith said, “visiting sweet Emma and her family has opened my eyes to what home care means to my constituents and to the many South Carolinians who depend on Medicaid home care to stay with their families and out of higher-cost settings. I look forward to exploring ways we can help keep families together while at the same time effectively managing the state’s budget.”

“One-on-one nursing services have allowed Emma to remain safely at home under the Medically Fragile Children’s Medicaid Nursing Waiver. This program is an alternative to nursing home placement at a lower cost to the state,” said Melissa Allman, Hearts for Home Care advocate and Director of Government Affairs for BAYADA. “In-home nursing care helps minimize deterioration and can prevent costly hospitalizations as staff can address subtle changes in the medical condition before it becomes serious. I hope that more legislators continue to learn about how cost-effective these services are to the state, and how valuable they are in keeping South Carolinian families together.”

Home visits like this one really give elected officials a better understanding of how their decisions on key issues like Medicaid impact real people who are seeking to remain safely at home with their families. To find out ways in which you can participate in a home visit with a local legislator, or other ways you can advocate, email advocacy@bayada.com.

20×2020- An Advocacy Goal

What counts as advocacy? Advocacy is any message, big or small, delivered to state or federal decision makers to express the importance of home care.

This means that as an employee, you could advocate by sending an email or a letter to a legislator, sharing a story about home care on social media, attending your state’s lobby day, or helping a client advocate.

We have seen many times over how these messages add up to bring positive change to our staff’s and clients’ lives. During this year’s Ambassador of the Year Awards, US Senator Debbie Stabenow talked to attendees about how our email campaign in which BAYADA employees sent over 138,000 messages to our federal legislators, stopped Congress’s attempt to cut Medicaid funding. All of your advocacy activities add to our collective message that home care is important and should be prioritized when the government makes public policy decisions.

Don’t be afraid to share your voice to make positive changes for a better and stronger home care industry. To learn more about how you can be involved in advocacy and be part of that 20 percent, please contact me, Rick Hynick, at rhynick@bayada.com.

Advocate Spotlight: Jen Collier


Jen Collier with her local congressman, US Representative Ralph Norman

Hearts for Home Care Ambassador Jen Collier, Transitional Care Manager for the Charlotte Visits (CV) office, recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to join other families on Capitol Hill to advocate for her father and the many other individuals across the United States that receive charitable assistance.  Jen’s father was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia for which there are only two medications that can effectively treat the illness.

Jen’s father failed the trial for one of the medications, so he must take the second medication, which exceeds $23,000 per month in out-of-pocket costs.  When he was diagnosed, he owned his own business, but when he lost his business, he lost his insurance.  Working as a new nurse in an emergency department in Gastonia, NC, Jen found herself having to learn how to get him the necessary care as an uninsured client.  She spent most of her time calling oncologists and begging them to take her father as their patient with no insurance.  She also had to find out how to pay for this medication and the 24 others he needed for his other chronic health conditions.

Patient Services, Inc. (PSI) is a charitable organization that helped Jen navigate this complicated process and assisted with the out-of-pocket costs for his medication.  Once he passed the waiting period for disability and got Medicare, his out-of-pocket responsibility still cost him $7,000 per month, even with his supplement. PSI continued to assist Jen and her father with these monthly payments.

Last year, Jen received notification that her father’s financial assistance was in jeopardy due to federal efforts to cut charitable contributions. PSI selected Jen to help them lobby Congress in support of H.R. 3976, which, if passed, would add PSI and other similar companies to the list of those exempt from this law. During her day on Capitol Hill, Jen met with over 10 representatives and their staff to gain support for this bill, which affects not only her father, but many of the patients she works with every day as a transitional care manager.

Jen said “It was a huge honor to be selected by PSI to help gain support for this bill.  PSI is a wonderful organization and I don’t know where my father would be without their assistance.  My director put me right in touch with GAO, and everyone has been so encouraging.  I am so thankful to work for a company that was able to give me the necessary training and support as I navigated this complicated process for the first time.  I am passionate about being an advocate every day for my patients because of what I have been through with my father.”

To learn more about PSI, please visit their website.

To learn more about H.R. 3976, click here.

Nicole Lugo Named South Carolina’s First Ambassador of the Year!


 Nicole Lugo (center) poses with her Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Award alongside GAO Director Melissa Allman (left) and Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro (right).

Nicole Lugo, Director of the Coastal Carolina Pediatrics (CCP) office, and her mother, Emily Lugo, recently joined GAO and other state Ambassador of the Year winners in Washington, DC as South Carolina’s first Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year.  Nicole was given this honor due to her instrumental role in securing a policy change for the Medically Complex Children’s Waiver by presenting BAYADA’s “Intro to Pediatrics” program to the Department of Health and Environmental Services.

Nicole’s enthusiasm and passion for advocacy continue to shine on a daily basis. Thank You Nicole, for all you do on behalf of your staff and clients!

To read more about the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Awards, please see last week’s Bulletin article

If you are interested in learning more about the Hearts for Home Care Ambassador program or about becoming your office’s Ambassador, email Mike Sokoloski.

South Carolina Ambassadors Speak Out about their Ambassador Training Experience

On March 15, GAO hosted our annual Hearts for Home Care Ambassador training for new and current ambassadors at BAYADA’s North Carolina Learning Center.  The day began with our Key Action of the Week discussion and followed with a day of learning, client experience, and panel discussions with legislators and campaign managers. Our ambassadors felt the day was energetic and inspiring, and they especially enjoyed the client stories and legislative perspectives. Below, please find quotes from two of the day’s attendees:

Christian Sheets, Client Services Manager in the Coastal Carolina Pediatric and Adult Nursing Office stated: 

“The most helpful part of Ambassador training was just the amount of comfortability I felt after attending. Simply discussing the need for advocacy with my peers made me realize that it will be easy to be passionate about our issues in legislative settings. “

Amy Ramey, Director in the Rock Hill Assistive Care Office added:

“My perspective is that the Ambassador Trainings get better each year. I especially enjoyed Ron Ross and the dynamic session he provided. I am thrilled that there seem to be more and more people interested in advocacy and that our group is growing!

If I could change anything it would be to not call it “training.” I think some thought it would be the same as last year and didn’t see a need to attend. However, I learned so much that we didn’t cover last year. Overall, the experience was excellent. I’m looking forward to next year!”

It’s OK if you missed training! If you’d like to find out more about becoming a Hearts for Home Care Ambassador, email Mike Sokoloski.

 

SC Session Ends as Primary Election Season Begins

South Carolina’s 112th General Assembly will come to an end on May 10.  At the same time, the state’s election season is starting to heat up. Because legislators will be focused on their constituencies and their districts, GAO’s focus will shift to connecting with legislators through in-district home visits and legislative roundtables.

Additionally, over the next two weeks GAO will be submitting BAYADA’s recommendations regarding the state’s Medicaid Waiver programs to the Department of Health and Human Services.

If your office is interested in hosting a legislative roundtable, or if you have a client that may be a good fit for a legislative home visit, please email me.

Key Primary Races and Important Dates

South Carolina’s gubernatorial campaigns are off to a running start. Currently there are three democrats and six republicans running for the state’s top seat. Current Governor Henry McMaster (R) and Lt. Governor Kevin Bryant (R) will both be competing for Governorship. This will be the first year that the state’s current governor and lieutenant governor will run against one another. So far, only two candidates have announced their running mates for Lt. Governor.  Governor McMaster (R) has chosen Pamela Evette, a businesswoman from Travelers Rest, as his running mate, and Marguerite Willis (D) has chosen State Senator John Scott (D) has her running mate.

Both South Carolina Congressional and State House legislators will be up for reelection this year.

 

Candidates for South Carolina governor, from left to right (top) Kevin Bryant(R), Yancey McGill (R), Henry McMaster (R), and Phil Noble (D), (bottom) James Smith (D), Catherine Templeton (R), John Warren (R), and Marguerite Willis (D).

 

 

Important Election Dates

Deadline to register to vote: May 13
Are you registered to vote?  If not, click here

<link:  https://www.scvotes.org/south-carolina-voter-registration-information>

Primary Election: June 12

Primary Runoff Election: June 26

General Election: November 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes from our Advocates: Legislative Day in South Carolina

On April 4, the South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association hosted its second annual Legislative and Advocacy Day. This year, a record-breaking total of nearly 50 advocates gathered in South Carolina’s state capitol for a day of meaningful and heartfelt advocacy. Advocates, which included two home care clients, walked the halls with a clear message: Investing in the state’s Medicaid Waiver programs will save the state money and keep medically fragile children, disabled adults, and seniors home with their loved ones and out of higher cost facilities.

With their passionate message in hand, advocates spoke with over 50 legislators about the importance of home care. The highlight of the day was the recognition the home care advocates received on the house floor by Speaker Pro Tempore Representative Tommy Pope!

Advocates were inspired by the impact they made that day. Below, please find several quotes and pictures submitted by our advocates.


Brandon Keisler, Haley Keisler, Rep. Jimmy Bales, Stephanie Black, and home care clients Max and Matthew K.

“It was an honor to participate in this year’s Advocacy and Legislative Day, to be a part of such an impactful team, and especially to bring my two boys with special needs to the event. It was a wonderful to be able show the representatives firsthand why we need higher Medicaid reimbursement rates in South Carolina.” 
 -Haley Keisler

Dan Noel, Jen Collier, Rep. Bruce Bryant, and Amy Ramey.

“Speaking with legislators about the need for higher Medicaid reimbursement rates in South Carolina was an amazing experience. We had a great turnout and I was especially pleased with all the love our fellow advocates gave us; their support was energizing– what a great group of people!”   -Amy Ramey

“It was overwhelming to see so many people come together for a common goal. We advocated for something so important and I am so proud to have been a part of that!”   -Jennifer Collier


Alisa Borovik, Nicole Lugo, Rep. Sam Rivers, Tara Montague, and Jaime Bennett.

“This was my first Legislative Day and it certainly will not be my last. It was truly remarkable for all of us to come together from different BAYADA backgrounds to make this day a success. I look forward to advocating for my company and my state in the future!”

-Jaime Bennett


Nicole Lugo, Nancy Mace, and Lee Dobson.


“It was encouraging to see the growth of our advocacy group over one year and it is clear that Hearts for Home Care has the opportunity to be the biggest voice for home care in South Carolina.”

-Nicole Lugo

 


Louise Lindenmeier, Rep. Leon Howard, and Tim Peterkin.


“It was truly a pleasure to connect with our South Carolina legislators to explain how our services can keep their constituents at home, explain the cost savings of home care versus hospitals and facilities, and connect legislators with our purpose and mission.”

-Tim Peterkin


Pictured: Ryan Burnaugh, Rep. G. Murrell Smith, Melissa Allman, and Dave Totaro.

 

“We believe Home Care is important to our communities, and I support the good work you do. Please let me know how I can help you.” 

-SC House Ways and Means Health and Human Services Subcommittee Chairman Rep. G. Murrell Smith

 


Karen Noblett, Foster Krebs, Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, Maggie Tracey, and Melissa Allman.

 

“The South Carolina Legislative Day was a great opportunity to meet with legislators and talk to them about the importance of investing in home care… I can’t wait to see the impact that we have on laws affecting home care!”   -Foster Krebs


Nicole Lugo, Rep. Neal Collins, Tara Montague, Jaime Bennett, and Dominic Molin.

“Over the course of the day I felt a strong sense of comradery, pride, and support when—no matter where I looked—I saw a colleague dressed in their finest red! It was great to be a part of something bigger than myself by advocating for those who need it most.”

-Dominic Molin


Dave Totaro, Rep. Katherine Arrington, and Laura Jaycox.

 

“Legislative Day made it possible to get involved and support home care even though I had no prior experience. I enjoyed meeting everyone and learned so much. Thank you so much to my fellow advocates for all of your knowledge and support!”

-Laura Jaycox


THANK YOU to all of our advocates that participated in 2018’s Legislative and Advocacy Day!

Hearts for Home Care advocates in South Carolina Capitol for Lobby Day