Work Continuing from EOHHS Summit

The Alliance is still accepting thoughts, suggestions and concerns from members to bring to the follow-up meetings to the Health and Human Services Summit.

In late November, Governor Deval Patrick and Health and Human Services Secretary Judy Ann Bigby convened a Massachusetts Human Services Summit to gather ideas and suggestions on how state government, and human service providers and organizations, could move forward in the current economic situation.

The event, held at UMass Boston, was attended by 300 providers, advocates, consumers and others, including Home Care Alliance staff and several Alliance members. Attendees were broken into three groups that focused on “Improving Access to Client Centered Services,” “Strengthening the Capacity of Human Service Organizations,” and “Sustaining a Quality Human Services Workforce.” Participants were charged with addressing these questions:

1.    What are the two to three major barriers (other than funding) that get in the way of working smarter and better?
2.    What can we do together to remove these barriers?
3.    What can state government and its private sector partners do to encourage and support innovation, both separately and in collaboration?

Alliance staff has been among those invited back to participate in follow-up workgroups who will continue to address these issues. For more info, visit the Human Services Summit website.

The Alliance would welcome any comments or suggestions on any of the above subjects so that we can be fully prepared to contribute. Workgroups will meet in mid-January. Please contact James Fuccione at the Alliance with any submissions.

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NAHC Opposes So-Called Super MedPAC in Senate Bill

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) reported that the recently-approved Senate version of health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes a provision to establish an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

According to NAHC, the 15-member board’s primary task would be to make recommendations to Congress on extending the solvency of and slowing cost growth in Medicare, beginning in 2015 and forward. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the IPAB proposal would save $28.2 billion over 10 years.

Based on conditional Medicare spending triggers, IPAB recommendations would take effect unless Congress proposed an alternate plan. The provision in the Senate bill also requires that IPAB submit proposals to contain Medicare cost growth to the president, who in turn must submit proposals to Congress for immediate consideration. IPAB would be prohibited from submitting proposals that would ration care, increase revenues, or change benefits, eligibility, or Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including Parts A and B premiums). NAHC believes  it is likely that the reductions would have to come from reimbursement rates for health care providers.

NAHC stated that they oppose this provision because it gives IPAB too much power and the 15-member board, appointed by the President, would be unlikely to have strong representation from home care and hospice. Nahc also stated that they have expressed their concerns to Senate and House leadership.

Visit our Legislative Action Center to write your own message to your federal representatives to voice your thoughts on this provision and send one of the pre-written messages to oppose cuts to home care.

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Private Care Guide 2nd Edition Available

The Alliance has printed a second edition of the  2010 Guide to Private Home Care Services.  The new edition — of which there are 2,000 copies — includes five new agencies, for a total of 113.

The Guide is available free of charge, with no shipping fees on orders of less than 50 copies, on our website or by order form.  It is also available for digital download.

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The Home Care Alliance is promoting the website “” on WBZ News Radio (1030-AM) with an ad that is themed around keeping the entire family home for the holidays.

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Senate Passes Health Reform

See the following reports, including a video from CNN, on the Senate passing health reform. The vote was 60-40 along party lines as the Democrats were able to secure their necessary majority.

The bill still includes tens of billions in cuts to Medicare home health payments, although re-basing is delayed until 2014 and Senator John Kerry’s amendment to reduce the cuts by nearly $5 billion was included.

The Boston Globe

Elated Senate Democrats won the first critical procedural vote required to advance major health care legislation just after 1 a.m. this morning, one of four votes required this week to pass the proposal by their self-imposed Christmas deadline.

New York Times

The Senate bill, once completed, must be reconciled with the bill adopted by the House last month, and there are substantial differences between the two. The House measure, for instance, includes a government-run health insurance plan, or public option, that was dropped from the Senate bill.

UPDATE: Senate officially passes reform on Christmas Eve. See this story for more details.

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Alliance to Lead State in National Quality Campaign

With federal and local health reform efforts focused on improving quality and cutting costs, The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts will be the state leader in a new national campaign to reduce avoidable hospitalizations and improve management of oral medications though home health care.

Performed in partnership with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a new and improved Home Health Quality Improvement (HHQI) National Campaign will launch January 13, 2010. As a HHQI Local Area Network of Excellence (LANE), the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is the central hub of campaign activity in the state.

See the Alliance press release on the HHQI campaign.

In 2007 and 2008, more than 5,500 home health agencies enrolled in the first HHQI National Campaign. Together they learned, shared best practices, and improved the care provided to their patients.

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Boston Globe: South Boston Adult Care Program to Close

Due to the amendment in Medicaid Adult Day Health regulations meant to save $6 million, many adult day health centers will be closing their doors. Among them is Catholic Cahrities’ Laboure Center, which serves 45 elders and adults with special needs.

The Boston Globe reported on the closing of the Laboure Center that will shut down on December 31.

The budget cuts will impact centers across the state, as the following excerpt explains:

Because of the new state regulations, which went into effect Nov. 15 as part of an effort to cut $6 million in Medicaid spending, at least 50 percent of adult day program participants are ineligible for some basic care, according to the Massachusetts Adult Day Services Association.

Call the Governor’s office TODAY at 617-725-4005 and urge him to take action!

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