|Last week, the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means committee released its fiscal year 2019 state budget totaling $41.4 billion dollars. Senators had a deadline of Monday to file amendments to the bill, and it will be debated next week. Three Alliance priorities have been filed as amendments. Below are brief descriptions of each, with a link to send a pre-drafted email to your state legislator. The Alliance encourages you to send an email for all three amendments.
Amendment #589: EMAC Assessment Hardship Waiver:
Amendment #560: Enough Pay to Stay Amendment:
Amendment #620: Continuous Skilled Nursing Funding
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!!
By: Beverly Pavasaris
President, Brockton Visiting Nurse Association
President, Home Care Alliance Board of Directors
With six home care-related bills working their way through the State House and budget meetings in progress, now is an ideal time to get to know your legislators and speak with them about the importance of home health in their districts.
Here are four things you can do to make a difference:
Talk to your Representatives
State representative and senators (find them here) rely on informed constituents to help them understand the legislation before them. Don’t assume that they know what home health care is or why it’s important. Be prepared to educate your legislators or their health care staff. It is well worth your time.
Your congressmen and senators, also have district offices near you, whose staff you can speak with. Make it a point to reach out to them when they are in their home district offices.
Before you contact your legislators, be sure to read up about the home care-related bills proposed in this session (and which the Home Care Alliance endorsed):
- An Act Relative to Home Health and Hospice Aides (S.1064) sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore.
- An Act Establishing a Certificate of Need for Home Health Care (H.1028) sponsored by Rep. Kate Hogan
- An Act Allowing Out of State Physicians to Order Home Care Services (S.1042) sponsored by Senator Michael Knapik
- An Act Relative to Telehealth (Senate Docket 1771) sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler
- An Act Relative to Pediatric Home Care Services (H.1007) sponsored by Rep. Michael Brady
- An Act Relative to Vehicles of Home Health Clinicians (H.1864) sponsored by Rep. John Mahoney
Be sure to contact both your personal representatives – i.e., those who represent the district you live in – and those who represent the district where your business is located.
Schedule a Home Visit
Invite legislators – both state and federal – to come with you on a home visit. Seeing how home care works is more powerful than hearing description over the phone, and also gives them a chance to meet with constituents and get a good photo op. If you would like assistance in setting up a visit, contact the Alliance’s James Fuccione.
Recruit Your Board & Employees
Your board members and employees can also be powerful advocates for home care. Inform them about the issues and have them make phone calls to their representatives as well.
Attend Lobbying Events
- March 17th through the 20th is NAHC’s March on Washington;
- Massachusetts Lobby Day at the State House on March 28th; and
- VNAA Public Policy Leadership Conference is on September 18-19, 2013 in Washington.
If you have any questions about contacting your legislators, contact James Fuccione, the Alliance’s Director of Legislative and Public Affairs.
Good luck and see you at the State House and in Washington!
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.