Alliance Quoted in Article on Worker Training, Background Checks

December 28, 2016

James Fuccione, former Director of Legislative and Public Affairs for the Home Care Alliance, was extensively quoted in an article in the Springfield Republican today.  The article, “Personal care attendants have less training, checks than other home care workers,” by Shira Schoenberg, Statehouse reporter for the Republican, compares background checks and training requirements for workers in the state Personal Care Attendant program with workers employed by home care agencies that provide services under the Executive Office of Elder Affairs home care program.


2017 New England Home Care & Hospice Conference and Trade Show Speaker Proposal Deadline Approaching!

December 28, 2016

NEHCC SPEAKER PROPOSAL SUBMISSIONS NOW DUE BY DECEMBER 31st!

With the holidays around usNEHCC-2015-Logosm, the NEHCC committee wanted to provide the gift of a deadline extension! To date there have been many qualified and appealing submissions but it is no longer too late to submit your own presentation!

The NEHHC welcomes Speaker Presentation applications from a diverse audience of home health and healthcare experts.

SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL HERE!

The New England Home Care & Hospice Conference and Trade Show is designed for senior and mid-level administrative and clinical staff. The conference features multiple keynote sessions, workshops, and intensive programs. Topics are designed to meet the needs of all agencies, including Medicare-certified, private duty, and hospices. The New England Home Care & Hospice Conference and Trade Show is the region’s premier event for home care and hospice agencies. It’s hosted by the six New England state home care Associations, which collectively represent nearly 400 organizations. This coming year, the conference returns to the Radisson Hotel Manchester May 16 – 18, 2017.

Go to www.NEHCC.com for more information about the conference!

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WBUR Reports on Home Care Workforce Stuggles

December 20, 2016

Home care workforce struggles are being highlighted based on data collected by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute and reported by WBUR.

The data is staggering and all points to a theme that the New England states will struggle with attracting enough home care workers to meet demand. The six states in the region also have the lowest birthing rates in the country. Combined with a rapidly aging population, researchers conclude that the workforce has to come from outside the region and likely outside of the united States entirely. The story points out the following stats:

As of 2014, more than a quarter of the home health care workers in Massachusetts were foreign-born, according to census data compiled by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute. Forty-one percent of the nursing assistants in the state’s assisted living facilities were also born outside of the U.S. And these numbers likely miss immigrants who work part-time or who may be here illegally and working under the radar.

The WBUR story quotes Barry Bluestone, a professor of public policy at Northeastern University who’s run some of the jobs numbers, and predicts that in Massachusetts, “we’re going to need about 93,000 additional home care workers over the next 10 years, or almost 10,000 a year.”

Bluestone lays out that the enormous challenge is potentially compounded by the political landscape:

“These are overwhelmingly immigrant workers, and what I fear is if the current kind of political environment either shuts off immigration, or potential immigrants look at the United States and say this is not a very comfortable or safe place to be,” Bluestone says. “I don’t have any idea how we’re going to fill those 10,000 jobs each year.”

WBUR also had a follow-up piece on their “Morning Edition” show spoke only to 1199 Service Employees International Union as a “representative” of the home care industry and workforce.  SEIU shared national wage data and touted their work to achieve local raises to personal care attendants (PCA), leaving unaddressed the broader problem for home health aides, homemakers and other in-home caregivers related to rates and regulation. Recognizing the difficulty of covering a complex issue in a five-minute radio interview, the Home Care Alliance contacted WBUR with clarifying information and offered the organization’s expertise, along with that of member agencies.

For those looking, employers and job seekers in the home health industry may find career information through the New England Home Care Career Center, which is co-managed by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

 

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


State Budget Cuts Impact Home Health Care

December 8, 2016

The Home Care Alliance participated in several calls with MassHealth and Health and Human Services on planned budget cuts from Governor Baker’s administration. In total, the Governor announced $98 million in cuts from the $39.25 billion state budget.

Although there are reductions in home health, there are positive rates increases to report.

After years of advocacy by the Alliance and more recent efforts from a coalition of continuous skilled nursing providers as well as a family-based network called the Mass. Pediatric Nursing Campaign, MassHealth informed the HCA that payment rates for Continuous Skilled Nursing will increase by 2.6%. According to MassHealth, this equates to a $2.2 million bump in rates, which will become effective January 1st, 2017.

For the RN and LPN day and night rates, the increase hovers around a $1 boost in what those agencies currently receive. The Alliance, along with the provider coalition and family-based campaign, will continue to advocate for further adjustments to continuous skilled nursing rates in the upcoming FY18 state budget cycle.

As for home health skilled nursing rates outside of CSN, payment will be reorganized by the length of service of the MassHealth member. As of July 1, 2017, MassHealth is planning to break up the current skilled nursing rate for home health agencies into three separate tiers. The first tier will be for patients on services from day 1 through 30, which will be increased from $86.99 to $89.21. The second rate tier will be 31-180 days and the third rate tier is any home health service beyond 180 days.

MassHealth has indicated that the rates in the second tier will remain relatively static and the third tier will be decreased, but post 30-day rates as of 7/1/17 will be budget neutral from the changes taking effect on January 1st. An announcement from EOHHS will specifically outline the new tiered rates, but according to MassHealth, anything regarding rates that is seen before the New Year is not finalized and therefore subject to change.

The other notable decrease will take effect on January 1st when MassHealth plans to approximate the budget impact of those proposed second and third rate tiers into the current post 60-rate. The cut in the post 60-day rate from 1/1/17 to 7/1/17 will be a 6.75% reduction. This means the current post 60-day rate of $69.59 will be roughly $64.89 for the first six months of 2017. (This rate remains higher than the medication administration rate originally considered by MassHealth.)

Laid out in another way, this will be how rates are currently planned to change:

January 1 – July 1:

Home health services post 60-day rate will be roughly $64.89 (6.75% reduction)

July 1:

Service days 1-30: $89.21

Service days 31-180: Rates will remain roughly the same, but are not yet finalized

Service days 180: Rates will be slightly reduced from the current post 60-day rate, but are not yet finalized.

MassHealth is also streamlining enrollment in the Independent Nursing program to cut their application process from 8 weeks down to one week.

The net state cut for home health is approximately $3.8 million out of $758 million in MassHealth spending on home health care services.

Most of the other cuts announced by the administration are restoring vetoes previously proposed by the Governor in the FY2017 budget, but that were overridden by the legislature. At that time, the Governor vetoed $255 million and the legislature overrode $231 million. Included in these cut overrides are certain hospital supplementary payments (particularly to pediatric and Western MA hospitals) as well as $1.1 million in cuts to public health hospitals.

Other impacted accounts include supplemental payments to nursing homes, which will be reduced by $2.8 million, as well as a $2.8 million cut to adult foster care (AFC).

The Pediatric Palliative Care account (4590-1503) is being reduced by $400,000.

The legislature has already announced their view that Governor Baker went too far with some of the announced cuts and they will be working on restoring some of the funding reductions.

HCA of MA has an upcoming meeting with MassHealth to review the Governor’s proposal.  Also on the agenda are issues with ICD-10 changes that are impacting agency billing and payment.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


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