Two Workgroups Formed to Explore Changes in the State Medicaid Reimbursement Model

Recent conversations with MCC Waiver Administrator Michelle White have revealed that the time is right to explore making significant changes in the nursing reimbursement model.  GAO has formed two workgroups to analyze and evaluate options to address Medicaid policy and its reimbursement model for nursing.

First, we’ve formed a BAYADA technical expert group representing the relevant practices and leadership to help inform BAYADA’s recommendations.  The second group is a larger provider workgroup within the SC Association for Home Care & Hospice. As a SCAHHC Board member, I have been asked to co-chair this workgroup to draft industry recommendations.  BAYADA will draw from its internal workgroup to inform the conversation with the industry and Medicaid.  This is a great opportunity to address the challenges and recommend a unified solution to DHHS that can be a win-win for providers, the state, and ultimately- clients.

Thank you to the SC Advisory Council and the workgroups! I look forward to working with you to develop recommendations that will lead to better outcomes for our staff, clients and their families!

Meeting with SC State Legislators to Increase Reimbursement Rates for our Medicaid Waivers

SC Representatives Bruce Bryant and Thomas Pope discuss home care, Hearts for Home Care advocacy
SC Representatives Bruce Bryant (left) and Thomas Pope (right) met with Lee Dobson and me (center) to discuss home care

Area Director, Government Affairs, Lee Dobson and I have been making the rounds and walking the halls at the state capitol to educate key legislators about home care.

Our meetings with SC Senators Mike Gambrell and Floyd Nicholson gave us the opportunity to educate them on our challenges with staffing and reimbursement rates.  Senator Gambrell stated, “I’m familiar with home health care. My dad had services after his hospital stay, and he has been able to recover quickly because of the nurses.”  We also met with Representatives Bruce Bryant and Tommy Pope who also shared their experience of home care.

Representative Tommy Pope, Ex Officio, stated “I understand the cost savings home care can offer, and feel people want to be home.”  We had an encouraging meeting with the Assistant Director for Budget Development Senate Finance Committee, Angie Willis.  She is very interested in learning more about home care needs for South Carolinians and how the state legislature can help.

We also had a productive meeting with House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White and his Chief of Staff Beverly Smith. Chairman White has supported home care for many years and was previously instrumental in passing the enhanced rate differential for nursing. He gave us great insight on the challenges and opportunities within the political process and has helped us shape our path towards higher reimbursement rates.  We look forward to working with these and other lawmakers as we increase awareness and garner support for BAYADA’s legislative priorities.

If you’d like to find out what you can do to help advocate for higher reimbursement rates, sign up to become a Heart for Home Care!

Health Care Summit Sponsored by US Congressman Ralph Norman

SC Lieutenant Governor Kevin Bryant at the Health Care Summit, Hearts for Home Care advocacy
SC Lieutenant Governor Kevin Bryant and me at the Health Care Summit

On Thursday, January 25, 2018 local lawmakers, state legislators, health care industry leaders, and constituents came together to attend the Health Care Summit. The Summit focused on federal and state health care updates, and local statistics. US Congressman Norman (R-SC) gave federal updates from Washington, and former Chairman Eric Bedingfield and Lt. Governor Kevin Bryant spoke on state and regulatory issues.

The summit enabled me to learn more about the challenges in health care on a state and federal level. As a new GAO director, the opportunity also afforded me a chance to meet several key players in the state’s healthcare field, which will be especially important as I establish and expand South Carolina’s government affairs program to benefit BAYADA, our staff, and our clients.

Educating New SC Legislator Rep. Nancy Mace about Home Care

New South Carolina representative Nancy Mace was sworn into office this past month. When new legislators are sworn in, it is important that we educate them about the importance of home health care and how it has enabled thousands of South Carolinians to stay at home with their loved ones. This is especially true for Rep. Mace-   Since she will be serving on the House Medical Committee, which oversees regulatory issues for the home care industry, it will be important for us to educate her on the challenges our relatively new offices are facing.

Rep. Nancy Mace recently won the special election for House District 99 in Charleston and Berkeley counties and is the first woman to ever win this seat. As a former business owner of a small public relations technology start-up, she understands the grit and determination needed to get a business off the ground. We are hopeful that her business experience and committee membership will spur her to become a legislative champion for our issues.

Legislative meetings are most effective with real life stories from constituents. If you are interested in joining me to meet Rep. Mace and tell her about what home care means to you and your clients, let me know!

Session in South Carolina: 3 Weeks In and Already Busy

south carolina state house hearts for home care advocacy

Just three weeks into South Carolina’s session and we are already seeing a flurry of activity. This week was filled with numerous meetings and Governor McMaster’s first State of the State address.

Several House Ways and Means budget subcommittees and Senate Finance subcommittees met this past week to hear state agency budget requests for the next fiscal year. Chairman of the Healthcare Committee Murrell Smith has requested that the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) work with a consulting group to gather data and calculate the amount of funding the Department will need, which may impact BAYADA’s Medicaid clients.

Additionally, this past Wednesday, Governor Henry McMaster delivered his first State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly. He highlighted recommendations from his Executive Budget proposals and noted his priorities, including tax relieve, job creation, education, and health care.

In the Governor’s budget, he is proposing an increase of funds to support South Carolinians with traumatic brain injuries to be able to get the rehabilitative care they need. It’s exciting to see the Governor support a cause that is important to so many families in South Carolina.

PS- March is Brain Injury Awareness Month! If you’d like to contact the Governor about his support of traumatic brain injury patients, please email me.

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.

South Carolina Legislative Day a Success

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director (GAO)

Small and Mighty

Last month South Carolina joined the ranks of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania by hosting its first annual lobby day. All participants dressed in BAYADA red, and our smiles were seen and felt as our eight BAYADA Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors spread our common message—home care keeps families together, and creates jobs in the community while saving the state money.

“I was thrilled to join our small-but-strong BAYADA team in Columbia, SC as we continue to build our fledgling advocacy program,” said Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro. “It is exciting to see the enthusiasm from our SC team as they advocate for our clients and staff, and the very positive reception we got from the legislators and their teams. I am very optimistic about our future in SC.”

During the one-day event, our delegation reached 30 lawmakers, including key house and senate leaders who oversee the Medicaid programs. Medicaid rates are one of the lowest in the nation, and making a connection with members is a great start to resolving that.

Division Director Melissa Allman understands the important role advocacy plays in the political process. She shared, “Building our brand goes hand-in-hand with building relationships with lawmakers. They are responsible for the rates.”

Our advocacy day was a great first step in garnering support for home care. Our Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors plan to schedule home and district visits with members over the summer to keep the momentum of our outreach efforts going.

 

Quotes from attendees:

  • Associate Director Nicole Lugo: “Making a personal connection with a lawmaker is simpler than you think. They are people too.”
  • Associate Director Stephanie Black: “This was my first experience and I loved it! I’m convinced the more they know us, the more they’ll see the impact on families, the more they’ll invest in home care.”
  • Associate Director Amy Ramey: “Every senator and representative I spoke with had a story about a family member or friend who has received or is in need of services. I was honored to be a voice for our clients.”
  • Associate Director Cari Altom: “I was impressed that members actually left session to come speak with us in the lobby. Glad I came.”

Advocacy Alive In The Carolinas

Submitted by Michael Sokoloski, Manager, Grassroots Advocacy (GAO)

On March 23, at the North Carolina Learning Center, Hearts for Home Care ambassadors gathered for their annual advocacy training, with the focus on story-telling.  While it is extremely important for lawmakers to understand the policies behind the laws, one must capture their interest first.  A client story is the perfect way.  We invited a former BAYADA family advocate, Lynn Wright from Shelby, to share her story.  She described what she went through with both of her parents living with Alzheimer’s and how she advocated for them.  Paraphrasing Lynn’s words on the value of home health care…I can tell you how much it cost, but that is not value. I measure value in smiles, independence, safety and security, and peace of mind for knowing everything will be ok. That is why I advocate.  Her words were powerful, striking a chord in many.

During an exercise, our new ambassadors put together a six-word story of their own to convey why they advocate (see below). “I’m always impressed by the commitment of our ambassadors,” said Lee Dobson, Area Director Government Affairs. “They speak from the heart…and that is what a legislator will remember.”  In addition to story-telling, attendees learned how to garner support on our rate increase and the grueling process by which a bill will become a law.

Below are some of the six-word stories from our ambassadors on why they advocate:

  • The love and compassion for others.
  • Keeping people home where they belong.
  • Making a difference in children’s lives.
  • Everyone deserves care at home always.
  • Relying on others; caring for clients.
  • Helping those who can’t help themselves.
  • Always making a difference for families.

Photos: NC (top) & SC (bottom) Ambassadors who attending the training.

 

BAYADA Attends 117th South Carolina Governor’s Ball

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

Last week, two Hearts for Home Care Ambassadors represented BAYADA at Governor Henry McMaster’s Inauguration Ball as part of a contingent from the South Carolina Association for Home & Hospice Care (SCAHHC), a Platinum sponsor. Division Director Melissa Allman and Director Stephanie Black participated in a private reception, as well as the dinner.  With BAYADA’s commitment to the state and its recent expansion, this was a great opportunity to begin building relationships with lawmakers and show support to the 117th Governor.  Other SCAHHC attendees included David and Rayna Powell of Hospice Care of South Carolina and Kevin McHugh and April Mills of Embrace Hospice.  Both Melissa and Stephanie reported it was a great evening and well worth the effort.  They both would definitely do it again!

""
Melissa Allman and Stephanie Black at the ball

South Carolina: First Ask

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

This year, will be the first year in many years that we will be working with lawmakers to garner support for a much needed Medicaid rate increase.  We are partnering with other providers, as well as the South Carolina Association for Home & Hospice Care to ensure a unified voice.  Lawmakers return to Columbia on January 10, where we will work with leadership in both chambers. Senator Hugh Leatherman, Sr. of Florence will remain the chair of Finance and Senator Harvey Peeler, Jr. of Cherokee will lead Medical Affairs.  In the House, Representative Brian White will remain chair of Ways and Means.