2017 proved to be another eventful year for home care in Pennsylvania. Notably, MCO implementation of the increased pediatric rate went into effect on January 1, 2017. As a result, our pediatric offices have been able to implement various programs for our nurses including increased wages, benefits, and bonuses throughout the year.
Early in 2017 the PA Government Affairs Office (GAO) worked with NJ GAO Director Louise Lindenmeier to lobby against New Jersey Governor Christie’s intent to end the NJ/PA tax reciprocity agreement. We were successful in getting the over 40-year agreement reinstated, thus saving BAYADA employees over $6 million in taxes.
Throughout the year we were active participants in PA’s move towards full implementation of Community Health Choices (CHC). Our participation, as well as that of others in the industry, resulted in a temporary rate floor for personal assistance services. The rate floor ensures that implementation of CHC will not result in rate cuts for services within the program.
In May we submitted comments in favor of an “open” electronic visit verification (EVV) system, which would be more beneficial to our employees and to BAYADA than a closed system. The administration heard our concerns and is now planning to implement an open system. See our next article to learn more about PA’s EVV system.
Finally, PA took unprecedented steps by introducing legislation which would allow deemed eligibility for home care. This legislation takes a big step toward equalizing access to home and community based services as it would allow those who appear to financially qualify for nursing home services to be deemed eligible for home care services as well. After the legislation was introduced it was voted unanimously out of the House Public Health and Appropriations Committees and was voted out of the full House unanimously. Next up in the long and winding legislative process: The bill will now be considered in the Senate.
Towards the end of 2017 the PA GAO conducted a needs assessment with our PA division directors. Upon completion of the needs assessment our PA GAO Advisory Council met and recommended the following priorities for 2018:
- Increase the personal assistance service rate by an average of 10%, creating a statewide reimbursement rate of $20.58 by 6/30/18.
- Pass deemed eligibility for home care through legislation by 4Q18 (continuation of 2017 goal).
- Allow physician signatures to be obtained within 30 days instead of 7 days.
- Include requisite reimbursement increases in any state minimum wage increase.
- Pass drug disposal legislation for Hospice.
- Support the passage of Pennsylvania Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) legislation.
- Lay the foundation for rate floor legislation in Pennsylvania.
Our PA legislative priorities have been approved by BAYADA’s Chief Executive Officer. We are looking forward to an exciting and challenging year ahead! Thank you to all PA staff, clients and families for your support and commitment to advocacy. Your efforts are paramount to our efforts to ensure that all Pennsylvanians can live a safe home life with comfort, independence, and dignity.