New Program Instruction Approved for Home Care Agencies Working with ASAPs

April 30, 2014

After more than a year of the Home Care Alliance and other stakeholders working with the state’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs, an updated Program Instruction (PI) for the state’s Aging Service Access Points working with home health agencies has been approved and will go into effect on May 1st.

The PI addresses a range of concerns that were raised around assessment, care planning, supervision, payment and   communication between the nurse at the home health agency and the corresponding Aging Service Access Point (ASAP).  It replaces some very outdated PI’s and is the product of several meetings and edits sent through countless emails

A workgroup consisted of Home Care Alliance staff, the Mass Home Care Aide Council, and staff from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs along with several ASAP directors and ASAP nurses.

The Home Care Alliance is very pleased with the updated direction from the state, which will improve communication and collaboration between home health agencies and ASAP’s.

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Advocacy Alert: Help Gather Support for Home Care Budget Amendments

April 14, 2014

The Home Care Alliance’s priority amendments in the House budget now have numbers, which means you can email or call your state representative and easily ask that they support these important policies to advance home care services!

  • Amendment #968: Rep. Sean Garballey’s amendment to restore the MassHealth rate for home health nursing visits past 60 days of care to the payment level prior to December 1, 2008 so that patients with the most severe conditions can have their care continued and remain independent at home. MassHealth cut the rate once a person was receiving home nursing for more than 60 days, which runs counter to the state’s goal of keeping people in the community and driving down the cost of care.
  • Amendment #89: Rep. Kate Hogan’s amendment to study home health service capacity in the Commonwealth and recommend policy strategies for better state oversight of home care agencies. Massachusetts is one of only five states without either licensure or a “determination of need” process for home health agencies. In recent years the Commonwealth has experienced rapid growth in the number of certified home health agencies. This proposal is in response to that growth and would help to identify the current number of home health agencies and their licensure and ensure high levels of quality home care.
  • Amendment #491: Rep. John Mahoney and Rep. Mark Cusack’s amendment that would establish MassHealth reimbursement for telehealth services provided by home health agencies. This amendment was successfully passed in last year’s budget and this year’s version will ensure MassHealth is statutorily able to finish their work in creating a regulatory and reimbursement structure.
  • Amendment #775: Rep. James O’Day’s amendment to reestablish the Homemaker Wage Increase account. This appropriation would provide an annualized wage increase of approximately 75 cents an hour to over 17,000 homemakers and personal care homemakers.

Our Legislative Action Center makes it easy to advocate. Just click on the FY15 budget message, fill in your contact info, and hit send! The system will automatically send the message to your state representative.

You can also call 617-722-2000 and press “2” to speak to an operator in the House of Representatives to urge your State Rep to support amendments #89, #491, #775 and #968. You can use the talking points above when speaking to an aide or leaving a message.

Contact James Fuccione at the Alliance with any questions.

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House Ways & Means Releases Budget; Call Now To Support Amendments!

April 11, 2014

The state’s House Committee on Ways & Means this week released its proposed $36.2 billion fiscal year 2015 budget.

The House budget closely follows the Governor’s budget proposal in most line items related to home care providers, with slightly smaller allocations for MassHealth Senior Care Plans,boston-statehouse and EOEA Administration, and slightly more funding for local Councils on Aging. The House budget does not include the $1.2M Home Care Workforce Training Fund that was in the Governor’s budget.

Several legislative champions will be submitting amendments to the budget at the request of the Alliance. HCA members are encouraged to contact your local state representative TODAY and urge them to co-sponsor the budget priorities listed below.

A pre-written email is available on the Alliance’s Legislative Action webpage. For those choosing to call their local Representatives, please use the information below. Reps can offer formal support by contacting the office of the Representatives that are filing the amendments. Read the rest of this entry »

State Awarded Grant to Rebalance Spending on Community-Based Services

April 7, 2014

MassHealth announced that they have been awarded a 2% increase in federal funding that will aim to re-balance spending towards community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS). The state’s project summary is available here.

The initiative is known as the Balancing Incentive Program, or BIP, and the enhanced federal funding is provided through Section 4002 of the Affordable Care Act. To participate, states must commit to achieving 50% spending on non-institutional LTSS by September 2015 and implementing structural changes to improve their long-term care system.

The enhanced funds for Massachusetts will be used to directly or indirectly increase offerings of or access to Medicaid-funded LTSS. The specific uses of the funding will be determined over the next several months through a stakeholder engagement process and negotiations with CMS.

The enhanced federal funding will run until September 30, 2015, and is intended to support Medicaid-funded, non-institutional long-term care services for individuals of all ages with physical, mental health developmental/intellectual and cognitive disabilities.

In a presentation to stakeholders, including the Home Care Alliance, MassHealth said they intend to develop a “No Wrong Door” system. This system is designed to strengthen partnerships across state agencies and processes so that people receive the services they need from whomever they need regardless of the state agency an individual makes initial contact with or is referred to first. The program will also set up new clinical assessment tools and is required to set up a “conflict-free” case management system.

In total, MassHealth expects at least an additional $85 million and as much as $110.6 million in enhanced federal funding. The Home Care Alliance is part of a stakeholder group to advise the state on how the financial assistance will be spent. A July 31 deadline has been set for the state to submit a work plan.

Stay tuned to our blog for updates and more information.

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HCA Responds to Proposed PCMH Standards

April 4, 2014

Following a public hearing and a request for feedback, the Home Care Alliance submitted comments on proposed standards for physician practices seeking designation as Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH).

The state’s Health Policy Commission (HPC), created in the state’s Health Care Cost Containment Law, is charged with developing and implementing standards of certification for PCMH in the Commonwealth and will be working to finalize the proposed criteria in the coming months.

The Alliance’s comments promoted the potential of partnerships with home care agencies based on their ability to help physician practices meet some of the proposed standards. The Alliance specifically suggested that PCMH certification require that physician practices meaningfully partner with at least two agencies for the lowest tier of the designation with higher numbers of partnerships in higher tiers. The HPC currently has Basic, Advanced, and Optimal levels of PCMH certification, which may change in name.

The purpose of the certification process is to complement existing local and national care transformation and payment reform efforts, validate value-based care, and promote investments by payers in efficient, high-quality and cost effective primary care.

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Register for the New England Home Care Conference May 28 – 30!

April 1, 2014

Join colleagues from throughout the region for the best home health event of the year! Come to the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston for the 4th annual New England Home Care Conference & Trade Show on May 28, 29 and 30. It will feature fabulous keynoters, dozens of informative workshops and 2-hour intensives that will give you new ideas and insight to take back to your agency.

To register, you may either download the conference brochure or register online.

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