Advocacy Alert: Gain Support for the Home Care Oversight Commission

June 6, 2016

The roughly $40 billion that will make up the legislature’s FY17 proposal must first go through a six-member “conference committee” that will negotiate on differences between the House and Senate budget versions.

Included in the Senate version was a special commission that will study, discuss, and make recommendations on separate policies for state-based oversight of home health and private-pay home care agencies. It will take advocacy to ensure that this important provision is included in the conference committee’s negotiated budget, and action can be taken through the HCA’s Advocacy Center.

Simply fill out the contact forms and hit “send” to help gain support for the Home Care Commission!

The Commonwealth is one of five states without either licensure or a “certificate of need” process for home health care services. Massachusetts has also recently experienced rapid growth in the number of “certified” home health agencies. The related and significant spike in MassHealth spending has forced the state to establish program integrity measures on these agencies.

Likewise, private-pay home care agencies across the state that provide mostly non-medical support services in the home have no state oversight and a study commission is needed to determine the best solution.

The Alliance will continue to update it’s members on this proposal.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Senate Advances Home Care Commission in Budget

May 27, 2016

In a $39.5 billion budget, the Senate advanced Home Care Alliance priorities, namely a special commission that will study and make recommendations for state oversight of home care.

The commission would create a separate set of recommendations for certified home health and also private pay agencies. The group would include three representatives from each type of agency (certified and private-pay) as part of the membership along with policymakers, administration officials, and many others. During the Senate’s deliberations on more than 1,300 amendments, the Massachusetts Nurses Association and the MA Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Unfortunately, efforts to gain payment increases for home health aides and homemakers were not approved despite collaboration with the Home Care Aide Council, Mass Home Care, and several dedicated Senate offices. Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem) spoke well in debate on behalf of a home health payment review and Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) fought for inclusion of home health aide payment, in particular. Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) also helped lead an effort to advance home care rates.

On a positive note,an amendment was defeated that would have created a publicly-available registry of home care workers that aimed to list private information.

In addition, the Senate approved a pilot program of just over $1 million that expands income eligibility standards for services coordinated through Aging Service Access Points.

Other notable items in the Senate’s budget include the following:

  • A feasibility study on allowing spouses to be paid caregivers under MassHealth.
  • Allowing a leave of absence for nursing home residents under MassHealth (20 medical leave days and 10 non-medical leave days).
  • A fund created from fines and penalties relative to patient abuse in nursing homes that funds the prevention of such action through staff training and education, enhanced inspections, and relocating residents to other facilities.
  • $20.5 million for the Nursing Home Quality Jobs Initiative as part of SNF Supplemental Rates.
  • $200,000 for Geriatric Mental Health Services.

The HCA thanks its members for the hundreds of emails and phone calls to Senators during the past two weeks. The state budget process moves on to a conference committee process where the House and Senate negotiate differences between their two FY17 proposals. The Alliance will continue to push for the commission to establish oversight measures as well as other items to strengthen home care.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


Alliance Fall Conferences: Private Care and Financial Management

November 10, 2015

 

 

 

The Home Care Alliance is hosting two great conferences in the next coming weeks. Check out the information below to learn more about next weeks Private Care Conference and the Financial Conference being held on December 1st.
Private Care Conference top

The 2015 Private Care Conference is just a little over a week out but it is not too late to register! Come out to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA on Thursday, November 19th to listen to a stellar line-up of speakers.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Recruitment & Retention with Maggie Keen of myCNAjobs.com
  • Advocacy with HCA’s own James Fuccione
  • Sales & Marketing with Merrily Orsini of CoreCubed
  • Technology with Michael Radice of ChartaCloud
  • and Wage & Hour Compliance with Anita Maietta of the AG’s Office

Click to see the full Private Care Agenda and Registration

To register online, click here.

Financial Management top

HCA is proud to announce the office agenda for the annual Financial Management Conference being held on December 1st at the Waltham Woods Conference Center in Waltham, MA. Value Based Purchasing … ACO Contracting … Post-Acute Transitions … Agency CEOs and CFOs face a rapidly-evolving financial environment that brings huge challenges.  Gain tools and knowledge to help your agency succeed and thrive, from nationally-recognized expert speakers such as:

  • Teresa Lee of the Alliance for Home Health Quality & Innovation
  • Chris Attaya of Strategic Healthcare Programs
  • Rob Simione of Simione Healthcare Consultants
  • Jeanne Ryan, MA, OTR, MBA
  • and Jessica Hatch of MAeHC

Click to see the Financial Conference Agenda and Registration

To register online click here.

For any questions contact Megan Fournier at mfournier@thinkhomecare.org or 617-482-8830.


Advocacy Alert: Help Advance Private Home Care Oversight

July 23, 2015

Last December, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS), which is a division of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD), finalized regulation that removes private pay home care agencies from the Employment Agency Regulation.

This change, while a welcomed clarification, has left private home care agencies without any state oversight, which means that anyone can open up an agency and can start accepting out-of-pocket payment for providing non-medical supportive services to individuals in their home.

Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has provided a unique opportunity to advocate for reasonable state oversight of private home care agencies. Specifically, they are seeking feedback on how to clarify and streamline Massachusetts regulations across the board via a special webpage called “A Clearer Code.”

The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is asking agencies, home care workers and advocates to take the following steps to help home care consumers gain the protection and peace of mind they deserve:

Visit this website: http://www.mass.gov/anf/a-clearer-code-regulatory-reform.html

…And please fill out the online form as follows:

  • Name (optional):
  • Company/Organization (if applicable) (optional):
  • Address (optional):
  • Primary Phone (optional):
  • Email (optional):
  • CMR Number: 429 CMR 10.00
  • General Regulatory Themes: Select either Elders, Health Care, or Licensing & Permitting
  • Please list the Agency or Agencies affiliated with this regulation: Executive Office of Labor & Workforce, Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation, Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
  • Describe the regulatory issue or observation: When this regulation was amended, it dropped state oversight of private-pay home agency services. There are now literally hundreds of private home care agencies operating unlicensed and unregulated. Massachusetts consumers, especially the elderly, deserve better.
  • Suggestions for easing regulatory compliance: We need the Governor to name a commission to study and make recommendations on private home care licensure standards as soon as possible. Home care agencies and the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts needs to be at the table to determine the proper direction for quality services, ethical business practice and consumer protection for vulnerable seniors.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


2015 Private Care Guides Now Available

July 22, 2015
20150717_153758_10600

Three editions, for your convenience.

Every day, home care agencies help tens of thousands of Bay Staters live safely – and better – at home. Though health insurance and public programs like Medicare often pay for home care following hospitalizations or during acute illnesses, they do not typically cover chronic or supportive home care services. Private duty home care agencies, however, specialize in these situations.

In order to help connect agencies who provide private home care with the families who need their services, the Alliance is pleased to announce the publication of the 2015 editions of the Guide to Private Home Care Services, which will begin shipping next week.

As like last year, the Guide is split into three regional editions:

The county-by-county cross-references help you easily find local care, and the short essays inside will give you all the information you need to make the best decision for those you love.

All members will receive copies in the mail over the next few weeks. Additional copies are available for order through the links above, and — as always — at no charge for orders of 50 or fewer. Anyone needing a more detailed directory of home care agencies might consider our 2015 Resource Directory, which includes a detailed town-by-town index of 187 agencies from every corner of the state.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Conference Committee Announces Final Budget With Little Support for Home Care

July 8, 2015

The legislature’s state budget conference committee, made up of six members of the House and Senate’s respective Ways & Means Committees, decided on a final version of the fiscal year 2016 Massachusetts budget.ma budget pie chart pic

The $38.1 billion plan that is being sent to the Governor for his approval does not include the Home Care Alliance’s priority language that created a special commission to study and recommend licensure options for private care agencies. The commission language was included in the Senate’s version, but not the House, which left the conference committee to decide its fate.

The conference committee also did not include an expansion of income eligibility for services ordered through Aging Service Access Points (ASAPs) that the Alliance also supported.

One bright spot was that an advisory council on “mobile integrated healthcare” (MIH) was passed and includes a representative of the Home Care Alliance. The language defines MIH as:

a health care program approved by the department [of public health] that utilizes mobile resources to deliver care and services to patients in an out-of-hospital environment in coordination with health care facilities or other health care providers. Such medical care and services include, but are not limited to, community paramedic provider services, chronic disease management, behavioral health, preventative care, post-discharge follow-up visits, or transport or referral to facilities other than hospital emergency departments.

Other notes from a preliminary analysis of the Conference Committee’s budget include the following:

  • The MassHealth Managed Care line item continued to grow by another $770 million while MassHelath Senior Care, which governs the Senior Care Options program, dipped by more than $10 million.
  • In the Elder Affairs line items, State Home Care Program “Purchased Services” was set by the conference committee at about $2 million below FY15 spending, although the Enhanced Community Options Program (ECOP) grew by nearly $5.6 million.
  • Thanks to the efforts of home care supporter Senator Sal DiDomenico, the funding for the Pediatric Palliative Care Network was raised to $1.8 million from $1.5 million in FY15, but that’s still inadequate to serve the number of children currently on a waiting list for such care.
  • The Department of Higher Education’s “Nursing and Allied Health Workforce” line item ended up being level funded at $200,000 after being zeroed out by the Governor earlier this year.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


PCA Contract Spurs Clarifying Statement from the Alliance

July 2, 2015

Prior to the June 30th deadline for the state to negotiate a new contract with independently-hired and consumer-directed Personal Care Attendants (PCA), a deal was struck with the Governor’s administration for an immediate 30-cent raise and a “pathway” towards a $15 per hour wage in three fiscal years. Those annual contracts for future fiscal years still have yet to be negotiated.

With this announcement, the Home Care Alliance released the statement below to legislators clarifying that this wage boost is only for PCAs and not for homemakers or home health aides paid via agencies by MassHealth.

We encourage home health agencies and advocates to forward this to their legislators to highlight the fact that MassHealth has not increased home health aide rates, nor has it increased skilled visiting nurse rates.

Contract is a Win for Personal Care Attendants, Not Home Health Care

HCA Seeks Better Pay for All Home Health Aides

BOSTON, MA – This week, workers in the state-funded Personal Care Attendant Program (PCA) negotiated a new contract with the Commonwealth that gives them an immediate 30-cent raise and puts PCAs on a path to $15 per hour. This contracted raise will not apply to home health aides or personal care homemakers that work in the MassHealth program or the State Home Care Program administered by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA).

“The Home Care Alliance supports any direct care workers getting a higher wage, but people should know that home health aides are paid through home health agencies via rates set by MassHealth. MassHealth has not increased home health aide payment rates in eight years,” said Home Care Alliance Executive Director Patricia Kelleher. “Home health aides generally have a higher level of education and training than PCAs and care for medically complex patients. Yet, they are on a path to earn less because of the state’s inaction on payment rates.”

Even though they are paid by state funds, PCAs are hired directly by the individuals they serve and primarily provide assistance with activities of daily living for disabled adults. Home health aides work for home health care agencies that provide similar services, often as part of a care team that includes a nurse managing a plan of care overseen by a physician.

The Home Care Alliance has long advocated for higher payment rates from MassHealth to home health care agencies. Despite not getting an increase since 2007, most agencies have been increasing worker wages and already provide benefits to their home health aides.

 “The Alliance believes that raising wages for direct care workers in the community strengthens the ability of people to remain at home no matter what their needs. However, the Alliance also believes that there is a continuum of home care and that the entire continuum should be equally recognized and supported, “added Kelleher. “MassHealth needs to support agencies that employ home health aides so that reality of state support for these workers matches the headlines.”

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


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