MassHealth Initiative will Transform Payment and Care Delivery: Are you Ready?

January 24, 2018

As has been announced by MassHealth in numerous webinars, bulletins and most recently member mailings, effective March 1, 2018 MassHealth will begin enrolling the majority on their non dual,  under 65 years of age eligible members into one of three types of Accountable Care Organizations, or one of two Managed Care Organizations .  As outlined in this provider bulletin, there are  12 different Accountable Care Plan Partnerships, and  three Primary Care ACO Plans.

Member should all have been noticed about which plan they have been assigned  as of November 2017, and their enrollments are all effective March 1, 2018. Members will have between March 1 and May 31 2018 to switch plans.  After June 1 they will remain in a fixed enrollment until Feb 2019.

MassHealth is hosting series of important webinars and live trainings for providers between Jan and March, see dates and sites in the same Provider Bulletin.

It is imperative that agencies serving MassHealth patients attend one of these trainings.  At these training Masshealth we will covering issues around eligibility verification and how to establish if a patient’s insurer has changed, as well as what plans are required to do to ensure continuity of care for patients who may be switching plans.  Most of training information will also be posted to the Delivery Reform Provider resource website.

All patients who are switching to an ACO or an MCO should have received written notice already.  These patients are being directed to www.masshealthchoices.com if they need to verify plan information or want to switch their plans.

The large number of patients facing a change in the management of their care promises to cause confusion especially for home health patients for whom continuity of service is particularly critical.  HCA of MA asks members to keep HCA informed about the transition  process.


MA Legislative/Regulatory Preview for 2018

January 11, 2018
On Wednesday January 3rd , the Massachusetts Legislature returned for the second year of its two-year session. After a seven-week recess, the body is looking at a traditionally busier second half than the first. The nearly 170 bills that passed in 2017 marked the lowest total in twenty years.

Lawmakers have until July 31 to complete all substantial legislative debate. In addition, all 200 members are up for election in 2018, which is expected to be a distraction from normal legislative work as a result of a polarized political landscape. Here’s what the Alliance will be focused on in 2018:

Workforce Issues:

Prior to the Holiday break, the Alliance met with its ‘Enough Pay to Stay’ partners to strategize coordinated efforts to attain wage relief for direct care workers and ASAP case managers. The coalition has pending legislation which would take steps toward this initiative, but we will pursue other legislative vehicles to fight for our workforce.

Worker Registry:

In November, Governor Baker signed into law the Home Care Worker Registry. This law will establish a worker registry that requires agencies contracting with ASAPs to submit workers’ private information to the state. The law is enacted and subject to regulations. The Alliance and its partners are in active communication regarding next steps toward protecting our members and their workers’ rights.

Licensure:

The FY 2018 State Budget included language that will establish a licensure process for home health agencies providing skilled services. It is unclear at this point when the process to promulgate regulations will begin, but the Alliance will be providing input to the Department of Public Health as these parameters are developed. In addition, Alliance-sponsored legislation that would license private care agencies is still making its way through the legislative process. Under procedural rules, the legislature has until February to report legislation out of committee. The Alliance will continue to advocate for passage of this legislation.

Continuous Skilled Nursing:

In late 2017, MassHealth announced two rate increases for the Continuous Skilled Nursing (CSN) program that totaled nearly 11 million. This was welcomed news, but there remains work to be done. The CSN provider/parent coalition will continue to advocate for the CSN Bill of Rights legislation that would mandate bi-annual reviews of the workforce to ensure safeguards against future crises.

MassHealth Rates:

The Alliance has been informed that MassHealth will conduct a long-overdue review of rates for per-visit nursing, therapies, and home health aide services.  The Alliance will be working to gather data to demonstrate that the current low rates are interfering with agencies’ ability to attract and retain enough workers to meet the demand for services.

MassHealth Reorganization:

MassHealth’s initiative to enroll the majority of members into managed care programs this coming spring will dramatically change the way MassHealth members access home health services, and disrupt many existing provider referral relationships.  The Alliance will continue to work to ensure that MassHealth members retain access to needed home health services, and that agencies are adequately reimbursed for those services.

House of Representative Health Care Bill:

Late last year the Senate passed a health care cost containment bill aimed at curbing costs while maintaining access. It has long been rumored that the House will be embarking on similar initiatives. Though the details are scarce, this legislation could be a vehicle for many of the Alliances priorities in 2018 and we will continue to advocate where necessary.

If you have any questions about the year ahead for advocacy or would like to get involved, reach out to Jake Krilovich, the Alliance’s Director of Legislative and Public Affairs.


Urge Gov. Baker to Veto Home Care Worker Registry!!

November 16, 2017
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senate passed H. 3821 in its current form which does not include ‘opt-out’ language for workers. The bill requires agencies contracting with ASAPs to report their name, gender, home address, mailing address, employer name, job title and training’s to the State.
Throughout this process, the Alliance and its coalition members have repeatedly raised concerns that disclosure of personal information such as home address and gender to third parties (defined as labor unions, home care agencies, and ASAPs) poses an enormous privacy violation.
In July, the Alliance asked members to request Governor Baker send this legislation back to the legislature with an opt-out provision. The Governor did just that, citing several of the same concerns that we have raised. Unfortunately, both chambers rejected the Governor’s amended language, and only added a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking amendment that requires workers to disclose these personal experiences to their prospective employer.
Governor Baker has 10 Days to act on H.3821 and we need members to email/call the Governor’s office today urging him to veto this legislation!! Use this alert to email the Governor’s office!!
We also encourage members to call the Governor’s office requesting him to veto H3821 and encouraging him to protect home care workers. To do so call: 617-725-4005 

State Palliative Care Report Published, Work Group Seeks New Members

October 11, 2017

Last year, the state of Massachusetts’ Palliative Care Work Group commissioned the JSI Research & Training Institute to conduct a statewide and regional assessment on palliative care. In addition to reviewing the quality of palliative care in various settings, the report examined both accessibility and the factors that affect it. The work group, which is housed in MA Department of Public Health’s Comprehensive Cancer and Prevention Control Network, recently published the report. It examines availability of various models of care (e.g., hospital vs community-based), and the intersection of access and reimbursement, as well as public misconceptions and the need for more education. The report looks at access to care on a regional basis and includes an interactive map of identified palliative care services.

Screenshot of the report’s interactive map.

HCA of MA has also identified distinct palliative care programs on our consumer pages. Our online directory now includes a specific category for palliative care, and lists a total of eleven agencies that responded with information about palliative care to our recent survey.

As this work progresses, the state’s Palliative Care Work Group is looking for additional members to help provide consistent messaging about palliative care across the state. The next Work Group meeting will be Thursday, October 19, 2017, 11 AM – 1 PM at the American Cancer Society in Framingham.

Please email Colleen Bayard, cbayard@thinkhomecare.org if you would like to join the work group.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Talking Home Care Episode 4: NAHC’s Bill Dombi on HHGM and Federal Home Health Policy

September 24, 2017
Bill Dombi

Bill Dombi, Interim President of NAHC

For the fourth episode of the Talking Home Care podcast, Pat Kelleher talks with Bill Dombi, interim president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). Topics include:

  • Background on the the Home Health Grouper Model (HHGM) and an update on its status;
  • Discussion of the $950M/year reduction in overall home health spending, as estimated by CMS (and estimated to be much, much higher by NAHC);
  • An update on NAHC’s lobbying efforts, specifically its support of a letter sponsored by Senators Nelson and Rubio to oppose the new model;
  • How we need agencies to contact their representatives immediately (by the end of the Monday, September 25);
  • How cuts may affect the home health workforce; and
  • Holding the Trump Administration to its promise to reduce paperwork administrative overhead.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking the play button above, downloading it directly, or subscribing through iTunes or Google Play. (Length: 29’00”; Size: 14 MB).

Links/Action:

Talking Home Care LogoHost: Patricia Kelleher is the Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

Guest: William Dombi was appointed as NAHC’s interim president this past August, and served as its vice president for law since 1987. He is also director of the Center for Health Care Law, a nonprofit, public interest law firm established by NAHC, and executive director of the Home Care and Hospice Financial Managers Association. Additionally, he is a member of the advisory board of Bloomberg BNA’s Medicare Report.


Don’t want to miss the next episode of Talking Home Care? Subscribe through iTunes, Google Play, or enter the following in your podcast app: https://thinkhomecare.wordpress.com/category/talking-home-care-podcast/feed/

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Portraits of CareGiving – Enter Now!

September 20, 2017

To celebrate November as National Home  Care Month, the Home Care Alliance wants to put your picture up in the MA Statehouse!   So get out your iPhones and even — if you’d like — your selfie sticks, and send us a photograph of a day or a moment in your home care life!  The photographs will hang the first week in November,  and we hope they will tell in pictures a story of what you do every day across the entire Commonwealth to support those who are often invisible to elected officials and other parts of the health care system.

So get creative with it and let us show them what you do!

Find all of the details here.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Alliance Testifies on Home Care Legislation to Committee on Elder Affairs

August 29, 2017

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Elder Affairs held a public hearing on July 31, 2017. Several of the bills heard are of interest to home care.

The committee heard testimony on bills relating to:

  • Home Care Licensure/Worker Registries:
    • S.364/H. 341 An Act Strengthening the Massachusetts Home Care Program
    • H. 344 An Act Relative to Consumer Protection and Home Care Services
    • H. 1187 An Act relative to home health and hospice aides
    • H. 2068 An Act Establishing a Home Care Aide Training Registry
    • H. 2889 An Act Strengthening Home Care Services
    • S.343 An Act Establishing a Home Care Aide Training Registry
  • Home Care Workforce Bill (Enough Pay to Stay Initiative)

The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts and some of its members testified on all of the bills, and you can read that testimony at the links below:

If you have any questions, or would like any further information about these legislative proposals, do not hesitate to reach out to Jake Krilovich at jkrilovich@thinkhomecare.org.


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