Advocacy Success: Governor Baker Proposes Amendment to Home Care Worker Registry

July 18, 2017

Do you ever wonder if your phone calls into legislator’s offices’ ever do anything? I certainly do. The feeling that you care so deeply about an issue and fight so hard for it, but that the effort isn’t reciprocated by our elected officials.

Or how about when you hear legislators say, “I’m waiting to hear from constituents on this issue.”… Are they really? Do they actually want to hear from us?

When advocates ask me this, I’m always one to say ‘yes, they do want to hear from you.’ But I also understand how people feel when they see common sense solutions seemingly receive no consideration.

Before I go on, I need to disclose that we have to keep fighting for this particular issue. The legislature could reject the Governor’s proposal. But the advocacy behind the recently proposed Home Care Worker Registry should answer all of these questions above and serve as a model.

As you’ve heard numerous times from the Alliance, the Massachusetts Legislature has proposed and included in its final version of the FY18 budget a Home Care Worker Registry. This registry would require agencies to submit its worker’s private information like gender and home address to the Department of Elder Affairs. We have raised numerous legal and privacy implications for this legislation and have fought throughout the budget process to defeat and modify the language.

Last week, we sent out two advocacy action alerts asking you all to send emails into Governor Baker’s office requesting him to amend this registry language and insert an opt-in option for home care workers to chose whether they want this private information disclosed to agencies, ASAP contractors or employer organizations.

In total, Alliance members sent nearly 150 emails to the governor’s office, and yesterday afternoon we found out that the Governor sent back this section to the legislature offering an opt-in amendment. It was one of 9 sections in the over $40 billion budget that he chose to amend. Think about that for a second…

This is a clear accomplishment that proves these emails and phone calls do matter. That working with coalition partners in sync can make a difference.

But remember, we have work to do on this issue, so please keep an eye out for another advocacy alert that will urge the legislature to adopt the Governor’s suggestions and protect our workers!!


Recognizing Heart and Courage – Our Time to Shine 2017

July 10, 2017

(l-r): Home Care Champions Lisa Burgess, Lauri Medeiros, Susan McCarthy, Angela Ortiz. Far right: Northeast Clinical Services Exec. Director Diane Carrabine.

As is always the case, the annual Our Time to Shine awards ceremony was filled with emotional moments about the challenge-reward dynamic that is working in home care. Our two Home Health Aides of the Year — Gach Clamp of Emerson Hospital Homecare and Nancy Quinlan of Aberdeen Home Care — were both supremely eloquent about the personal family care giving experiences that led them to second careers in home care.

It was, however, our Home Care Champions – the parent-led Massachusetts Pediatric Home Nursing Care Campaign (pictured above) – that really pulled together the story and impact of home care. Campaign founder Angela Ortiz – speaking for fellow parent awardees Lisa Burgess, Sue McCarthy, and Lauri Medeiros – described their campaign to get nursing reimbursement rates from MassHealth raised for the nurses caring for their children.

Angela painted an impassioned picture of the lives of these families, especially when hours of care that are needed and authorized go unfilled. She explained the tremendous family strain, particularly affecting the siblings, and the countless admissions to hospital ICUs. This unnecessary pain and suffering that could be mitigated, she said, with more home nursing support.

Angela wove themes into her talk from her daughter, Ayla’s, favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz, and the love that is the basis of all these families do to care at home for their medically complex children. The hours of work the families have put into the campaign, and the partnership with the agency providers that has formed, serve as a model for any advocacy group. While there is much more relief needed to get the Continuous Skilled Nursing rates to a place where agencies can compete with specialty hospitals for nurses, the state has raised rates by nearly 5% in one year, a direct result of this tireless campaign.

When the parents show the courage to stand up at a hearing to tell their story and they are fueled – said Angela – by the message behind Dorothy’s journey “There is no place like home.”

We couldn’t agree more, Angela. Congratulations: It’s an honor to work with you.

2017 Star Award Winners

Gach Clamp Nancy Quinlan David Ahern Carlton Jorge David Prybyla
Gach Clamp Nancy Quinlan David Ahearn Carlton Jorge David Prybyla
— Aides of the Year — — Clinicians of the Year — Physician of the Year
Emerson Hospital Homecare Aberdeen Home Care Baystate Home Health Community Nurse Home Care Orthopaedics Surgical Associations

 

Arline McKenzie Susan Proulx-Galster Rep. Aaron Vega
Arline McKenzie Susan Proulx-Galster Rep. Aaron Vega
— Managers of the Year — Legislator of the Year
Walpole Area VNA Circle Home (D-5th Hampden)

For more on the awardees, go here.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Brief Analysis: U.S. Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act

June 29, 2017

The United States Senate released its version of a new health care bill on June 22nd. Titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the bill was met with energized advocacy groups immediately dispelling the measure. Earlier this week Congress’ nonpartisan budget referee, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), estimated that 22 million people would be without insurance by 2026, 1 million less than the House bill which was passed in early May. Facing defeat in a floor vote, with nearly 8 Republican Senators coming out against the bill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delayed the vote until after the 4th of July Recess.

Here is a brief analysis of key provisions of the Senate Bill:

  • Medicaid Funding: The bill, like its House counterpart, vastly rolls back Medicaid expansion and phases out federal funding between 2021 and 2023 and further reductions would begin in 2025. The CBO estimates that Medicaid enrollment would fall by more than 15 million people by 2026. Like the House version, this bill would create a block grant mechanism calculated on a per capita basis. Governor Charlie Baker has expressed concern for this and noted that it could cost Massachusetts billions in federal Medicaid funding and leave nearly 264 thousand residents without insurance. The Governor also estimates that the state could face a $8.2 billion shortfall by 2025.
  • Pre-Existing Conditions: Unlike the House bill, insurance companies would be required to accept all applicants regardless of health status. That said, the bill allows states to ask permission to reduce required coverage of essential health benefits. This could result in massive increases for people who want to purchase a plan with essential health benefits. While the CBO estimates that some will see lower premiums, they will also see fewer benefits.
  • Adults Over 50: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prevented insurers from charging older people more than 3 times what younger enrollees pay. Under the Senate Plan, insurers can charge five times more than younger people and ACA subsidies to help the lower income and elderly pay for insurance would be drastically lower.

What to watch? Since Congress is going through this process under a budget reconciliation rule, the Senate Bill must only have the same amount of savings on the deficit as the House version. Thus, since the Senate version saves over $320 billion over the next 10 years, and the House version saves approximately $100 billion over ten years, the Senate has roughly $200 billion to spend in order to build support with current ‘no’ vote Senators. Keep an eye on states that rely heavily on Medicaid funding, or states heavily impacted by the opioid epidemic. These are some of the Senators currently opposed to the bill, and Leadership may direct additional funding to their states to bring them to a ‘yes’ vote.

For more information or any questions, please contact Jake Krilovich at jkrilovich@thinkhomecare.org


New 2017-2018 Monthly Aide Webinar Schedule Announced

June 27, 2017

Why Participate? An investment in staff education is an investment in quality customer service for all types of agencies. For home health and hospice agencies, these hour-long webinars can be used to help meet the 12 hours per year educational requirements under the Medicare Conditions of Participation. For all providers, an educational investment in your staff pays off in quality care!

July 13, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Falls Prevention Risks
Speaker: Cheryle Atwater, PT
Description: Statistics show that 30% of those greater than 65 years old fall each year; and, one- half (50%) of those will suffer multiple falls. Emergent care due to injuries secondary to falls is one of the most frequently occurring adverse events reported for our home health population. This session will explore the risk factors contributing to falls and methods for identifying and addressing these factors by in home aides, in collaboration with other members of the interdisciplinary team.

August 10, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Cultural Diversity
Speaker: Kathie Smith, RN
Description: The United States has long been seen as a “melting pot” of people from many countries and cultures; this diversity will continue to increase. Misunderstandings caused by lack of cultural sensitivity and skills can lead to poor interaction with patients and their families. This webinar will cover basic principles of cultural diversity understanding in patient care.

September 14, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Quality Improvement Activities
Speaker: Heather Jones, MPH, CHES, COS-C
Description: What is QAPI? This session will describe the requirement for home health and hospice agencies to conduct Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) activities including a family satisfaction survey. How your agency performs on these measures is available to the public. In-home aides will learn how they play a role in supporting QAPI.

October 12, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Maintaining Professional Boundaries
Speaker: Cindy Morgan, RN, MSN, CHC, CHPN
Description: During this presentation the participant will discover: the meaning of professional boundaries, and the importance of maintaining professional boundaries. We will identify some red flags or indicators that give warning to boundary issues and strategies to prevent boundary issues.

November 9, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Communication & Conflict Resolution in the Workplace
Speaker: Kathie Smith, RN
Description: Basic principles of communication include verbal and non-verbal communication. We are communicating, even when we are not using words, with our body language. This webinar will cover communication skills and ways to communicate to help with conflict resolution such as effective listening; self-management; self-awareness and how emotions affect communication.

December 14, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Understanding Depression
Speaker: Cindy Morgan, RN, MSN, CHC, CHPN
Description: The CDC estimates that one in ten adults in the United States reports depression. About 25 million Americans will have an episode of major depression this year alone but only half of them receive treatment. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and represents a public health challenge. This disease may be experienced by people of any age group, any nationality or any socioeconomic level. Many times depression is not detected and therefore goes unmanaged. This presentation will focus on the manifestations of depression that patients may exhibit and the aide’s role in caring for the depressed patient.

January 11, 2018
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Recognizing & Reporting Patient Abuse
Speaker: Kathie Smith, RN
Description: According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, every year an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported as many as 23 cases go unreported. According to the National Children’s Alliance, in 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States. This webinar will provide information on recognizing signs of patient abuse and neglect both for adults and children and the importance of reporting appropriately.

February 8, 2018
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Dealing with Combative Dementia Patients
Speakers: John Conrad and Libby Hart, RN
Description: Our aides often notice that some elderly patients demonstrate behaviors that include paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and/or aggression. Each patient with aggressive behavior brings a unique challenge as caregivers attempt to assist with ADL/IADL care in the home. This presentation is intended for aides and caregivers to minimize the risk of injury when providing care for patients with dementia who demonstrate some form of combative behaviors. We will provide education and instructions regarding positions and techniques to avoid physical confrontations with those patients who have the tendency to hit, push, kick, spit or grab those providing care. We will address some of the causes of these combative behaviors and provide valuable tips and techniques to ameliorate each occurrence.

March 8, 2018
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Confidentiality and HIPAA
Speaker: Michelle White, MSN, RN
Description: This workshop will focus on assisting your In-Home Aides in understanding HIPAA and confidentiality guidelines. This workshop will offer practical tips to ensure that the para-professional adheres to the required privacy standards. Also included: the impact of social media such as Facebook, My Space, YouTube and cell phones, text messages, etc.

April 12, 2018
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Assisting a Patient with Chronic Pain
Speaker: Cindy Morgan, RN, MSN, CHC, CHPN
Description: Our world is aging. The elder population may falsely believe that because they are aging that pain is a normal part of living and is therefore not reported or managed. Since the majority of our patients seen in the home are elderly, this webinar will provide an overview of symptoms the aide may observe and the aide’s role in providing care to those patients experiencing pain.

May 10, 2018
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Infection Control in Home Care & Hospice
Speaker: Michelle White, MSN, RN
Description: This workshop will focus on understanding the basic principles of infection prevention and control. This workshop will also focus on Blood Borne Pathogens and the principles surrounding transmission and methods in which the aide can protect themselves and the patient.

June 14, 2018
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Enhancing the Patient’s Experience with the Home Care Bill of Rights
Speaker: Sherry Thomas, BSN, MPH
Description: The Patient Bill of Rights (BOR) sets forth requirements that ensure that patients and families are engaged in their home care and have good outcomes and experiences from their services. This webinar will review key BOR areas common to all home care settings that if not met by agency staff most often lead to disgruntled patients, complaints and a surveyor at your agency’s door.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ALL OF OUR UPCOMING PROGRAMS GO TO:

www.thinkhomecare.org/page/education


So… You Want to Start a Home Care Agency?

June 26, 2017

What does it take to start a home care agency in Massachusetts? This downloadble brochure — updated for 2017 — covers the basics, including: What regulatory issues pertain; How to get paid; How to bill insurers; Where to get more help; and How the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts can serve you one you’re up and running.

View this document on Scribd

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


2017 Annual Report of the Alliance and Foundation

June 19, 2017

The Report documents the companies’ activities, finances, awardees, and accomplishments for the 2016-2017 year.

View this document on Scribd

Copies of the report are available for digital download.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


2017 Private Care Guides Available

June 12, 2017

Now in its 11th edition, the Guide to Private Home Care Services has connected tens of thousands of families with the home care agencies that best meet their needs. While the Resource Directory is intended for professionals and others who make regular referrals to home care, the Private Care Guides are designed for consumers and are always available at no charge.

Click the images above to order.

The Guides contains county-by-county cross-references, as well as short essays about: What home care is; How to pay for it; How to choose an agency, and; What the advantages are of working with an agency over other options.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


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