Advocacy Alert: Urge FY16 Budget Conference Committee to Support Home Care

The House and Senate have formed a six-member “conference committee” that will merge the two budget proposals into a final fiscal plan for the state. Agencies and advocates can help get home care included in the reconciled budget by sending a message to the committee.
Work is ongoing, but must be completed by the beginning of the new state fiscal year on July 1st so time is limited to send an email. The House Conference Committee members are Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill), Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), and Todd Smola (R-Warren) while the Senate  members include Senators Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth).
Specifically, the Home Care Alliance is pushing the inclusion of a special commission to study state oversight options and minimum standards for private pay home care agencies. The Alliance is also supporting other amendments to expand access to home care services for seniors and also to create a comprehensive and collaborative state plan for Mobile Integrated Health.
The message itself can be viewed before sending and outlines the items that the Alliance is supporting. They include the following:
  • Senate Outside Section 90 as amended: Private Home Care Agency Study
    • 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.
    • This commission will make recommendations on licensure standards and potential quality measures that will protect consumers and create a level playing field in the industry.
  • House Amendment #336: Mobile Integrated Healthcare
    • Recognizing the success and utility of existing “community paramedicine” programs on a smaller scale, this language ensures that the Department of Public Health and stakeholders in the public safety and healthcare communities convene to determine the best possible model of “mobile integrated health” for Massachusetts.
  • Senate Amendment #747: Expanding Eligibility for Home Care Services
    • This language raises the Elder Affairs home care program income eligibility limit to 300% of the federal poverty level ($35,010 in CY 2014), and requires all home care enrollees who are not on MassHealth to make a copayment towards the cost of their services on a sliding fee basis.
    • The program currently has a top income limit set at 224% of the FY 15 federal poverty level ($26,561). Raising home care to 300% of FPL allows the program to serve the “near poor” who are currently excluded.

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