House Approves Budget Plan with Little Support for Home Care

April 30, 2015

This week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives quickly buzzed through nearly 1,100 amendments to their FY2016 budget proposal and came out with roughly $38.1 billion spending plan.

The House included little from all corners of the advocacy spectrum and the same was true for home care. None of the Home Care Alliance’s priority items and many of those the organization supported were not advanced so HCA will be among many groups relying on the Senate to step up when their budget plan comes out early next month.

Among the items that were approved and supported by the HCA was an initiative to shape a comprehensive Mobile Integrated Health plan for the state, which named the Alliance to an advisory panel for that effort.

Also, $200,000 was approved for the Department of Higher Education’s “Nursing and Allied Health Workforce” account that has, in the past, spurred a home care nurse residency program. The Governor’s budget had zeroed out that line item.

Other notable items approved in the House budget include the following:

  • $8.8 million increase for MassHealth Nursing Home Supplemental Rates.
  • $500,000 for a pilot program in the “greater Quincy area” to implement a model of field triage of behavioral health patients under medical control by specially-trained emergency medical services providers and transport of appropriate, non-medically complex patients to a behavioral health site of care for most effective treatment rather than to an acute hospital emergency department.
  • $50,000 to establish Financial Abuse Specialist Teams (FAST) to improve the ability of elder protective services programs to investigate and respond to reports of financial exploitation.
  • $750,000 for the Meals on Wheels program, which brought that item to $7.1 million – still below the Governor’s proposed funding for that initiative.
  • A prospective, global payment pilot program established under MassHealth under which Medicaid contracts with risk-bearing provider organizations for the provision and coordination of health care services for their attributed members beginning not later than September 1, 2016. The pilot would require that such risk-bearing provider organizations shall be able to provide coordinated care through the provider’s network of primary care providers and that such providers shall have experience and demonstrated capabilities to provide behavioral health services including psychiatric and substance abuse beds. Under the proposed program, Medicaid shall reimburse such providers on a prospective monthly basis provided that these organizations obtained a risk certificate or a waiver from the Division of Insurance.

Stay tuned to learn more about HCA’s advocacy around the Senate budget process and how you can weigh in to support better rates for visiting nurses, home health aides, and other workers along with establishing a commission to study private pay home care oversight options.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


Paid Sick Time Proposed Regs Need Comments from Home Care Agencies

April 27, 2015

The Attorney General’s office released proposed regulations for the paid sick time law passed via ballot question and due to be effective on July 1, 2015.

The law essentially states that workers employed by companies with eleven or more employees can earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year, while employees working for smaller employers can earn and use up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time per calendar year.

A full summary of the law, along with the proposed regulations and a list of public hearing dates are available on a special “Earned Sick Time” webpage on the Attorney General’s website. Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) conducted a quick analysis of the draft regulations posted on their blog.

The Alliance will be testifying on these regulations at the Boston hearing on May 18th so the Alliance strongly encourages home care agencies to review the draft regulation and send comments to James Fuccione so the HCA can formulate testimony. We further encourage agencies to attend and comment at the other hearings and listening sessions to be held across the state and to notify HCA if you’re planning to do so in order for the comments to be consistent.

A full list of the hearing dates and locations are below:

Friday, May 8, 2015
Brockton Listening Session
Location: Brockton Public Library
(304 Main Street, Brockton, MA 02301)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Monday, May 11, 2015
Salem Listening Session
Location: City Hall Annex Building, 3rd Floor Conference room
(120 Washington Street, Salem, MA)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Friday, May 15, 2015
Lowell Listening Session
Location:  Lowell  Lowell Federal Building
(50 Kearney Square, Lowell, MA)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Monday, May 18, 2015
Boston Public Hearing
Location: Saltonstall Building, 2nd floor Conference Rooms C & D
(100 Cambridge Street,  Boston, MA)
Time- 10:30 am – 1:30 pm

Friday, May 22, 2015
Framingham Public Hearing
Location: Framingham Town Hall, Memorial Building, Ablondi Room
(150 Concord Street,  Framingham, MA 01702)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Friday, May 29, 2015
Springfield Public Hearing
Location: 1350 Main Street – 3rd Floor Community Room
Time: 10:30 am to 1:30 pm

Friday, May 29, 2015
Pittsfield Public Hearing
Location: Pittsfield City Hall – Council Chambers
(70 Allen Street, Pittsfield, MA)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Monday, June 1, 2015
Fall River Public Hearing
Location: City Hall: 1 Government Center – The Hearing Room
(1 Government Center, Fall River, MA 02722)
Time: 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Friday, June 5, 2015
Worcester Public Hearing
Location: Main Library- Saxe Room
(3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01608)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org


Advocacy Alert: Email State Reps to Gain Support for Home Care in the House Budget!

April 17, 2015

The Home Care Alliance has been busy working with state representatives to file amendments to the recently released House version of the state’s FY16 budget. Now that those proposals are submitted, it is time to gain crucial support by asking other reps to cosponsor these amendments.

The amendments include the following proposals:

  • An increase in MassHealth rates for visiting nurses (filed by Rep. Sean Garballey)
  • Creating a commission to study state oversight options for private-pay home care agencies (filed by Rep. Mark Cusack)
  • An increase in MassHealth rates for home health aide services (filed by Rep. Chris Walsh)
  • A study of MassHealth’s Third Part Liability Billing process (filed by Rep. Paul Brodeur)

Agencies and advocates can send an email through HCA’s Advocacy Center just by clicking on the message, filling out the contact info form, and hitting “send.” The message will automatically shoot off to the correct Representative based on the address you enter.

Private pay home care agencies can send their own message for just the Study Commission language here, or a message can be sent for all the Alliance’s priorities here.

Any questions can be directed to James Fuccione at the Alliance.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


FY16 State Budget Plan Released by House

April 15, 2015

The House Committee on Ways & Means released their version of the state’s fiscal year 2016 budget with most accounts important to home care level funded. Out of the $38 billion in the proposed budget, $15.3 billion is spent on MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program.

Since language proposed by the Home Care Alliance to establish a commission to study options for agency oversight was not included, the HCA will be working with state representatives to file amendments to the budget for a number of items, including establishing commissions to study and make recommendations on state oversight options for private pay agencies and certified agencies. The Alliance will also be seeking an increase of $3.1 million in payment rates for home health aides as well as a restoration of MassHealth home health nursing rates.

The Alliance will also be supporting a number of budget amendments spearheaded by other organizations to raise home care worker wages, seek relief from the impending paid sick time mandate and restore the line item funding the Nursing and Allied Health Education Workforce Development program.

Additionally, the Alliance will support efforts to increase funding for elder home care purchased services from Aging Service Access Points. The House Ways & Means budget reduced that line item from what the Governor proposed earlier this year by more than $3 million.

Stay tuned as the Alliance will be sending out advocacy alerts on how agencies and advocates can urge support of these important issues.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org

 


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