Guest Blog Post: The Caring Force Announces Video Contest to ‘Broadcast Your Love of Human Services’

Guest Blog Post

by Christine Batista, Public Policy & Communications Associate, ‘The Caring Force’

The Caring Force has officially launched the  2015 Broadcast Your Love of Human Services video contest. And this year, the contest will take place on Instagram!

A few of us here at The Caring Force took the initiative to broadcast OUR love of human services by posting a video on our Instagram page. Now it’s your turn!

Get ready to Broadcast Your Love for Human Services by grabbing your phone and having some fun. Simply create a 15-second video, post it on Instagram, tag @thecaringforce and use the hashtag #BroadcastYourLove. In addition to your Instagram post, be sure to fill out the form on our Broadcast Your Love of Human Services Video Contest Homepage.

There is so much you can do in 15 seconds – all you need is a little creativity and a phone!

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Tell us why you love what you do.
  • Talk about the difference that human services makes in the lives of the people you serve.
  • Describe your advocacy experience. Did you attend our rally? Did you get a response from your legislator?
  • Tell us why you think it is important that human service workers come together to rally for our shared goals.
  • And most importantly, have fun!

Submissions will then be shared by The Caring Force Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts after the video submission deadline. The number of likes and retweets for each submission will be tallied as votes.

As always, each of the three finalists — selected by your votes and our panel — will receive two complimentary passes to our 40th Annual Convention & Expo: 40 Years Forward, and be entered to win a VISA Gift Card for your organization.

So start brainstorming and posting your video! You can share your video on Instagram from now until September 14. But don’t wait too long!


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What Federal Court’s Overtime Ruling Means for Home Care in Mass

A federal appeals court affirmed a regulation set by the Department of Labor that opens overtime wage protections for 2 million workers nationwide, but in Massachusetts applies only to independently-hired personal care attendants (PCAs).

The Boston Globe ran an article on the court’s decision and spoke to the Alliance to confirm that Massachusetts laws already cover overtime pay workers employed by home care agencies.

To clear up lingering confusion of how this decision applies to some, but not all home care workers in the state, the Alliance sent out the following press release:

What Federal Court’s Overtime Ruling Really Means for Home Care in Mass.

State Rules on Overtime, Minimum Wage Already Shielded Home Care Agency Workers

 BOSTON, MA – While a recent Federal Court of Appeals ruling opens the door for 2 million home care workers to receive overtime pay protections across the country, in Massachusetts the ruling is business as usual for approximately 20,000 home care agency workers already protected under state law.

“For many years, home care agencies here in Massachusetts have been governed by the state regulation on paid minimum wage and overtime so this is nothing new in our industry,” said Home Care Alliance Executive Director Patricia Kelleher. “We are encouraged and pleased that the federal law has been upheld, and hope that it will prompt greater compliance and understanding among any agencies in Massachusetts that were confused about whether to follow state or federal guidelines”

Private-pay home care agencies – paid out-of-pocket by individuals and families to provide in-home supportive services – have for years been obligated to follow the Massachusetts rules on providing overtime pay and minimum wage protections. However, independently-hired and consumer-directed personal care attendants paid through MassHealth have not had such protections. In addition to minimum wage and overtime requirements, private-pay home care agencies are required to conduct comprehensive background checks on workers, carry liability insurance.  Those agencies with accreditation through the Home Care Alliance also provide worker training and supervision to deliver the best possible services.

“Different states have different laws, and the fact that Massachusetts regulations go above and beyond a majority of states is a benefit to our workforce,” said Kelleher. “Home care agencies support adopting appropriate state oversight in the interest of protecting both consumers and workers.”


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Follow-Up on the 2016 PPS Rule & Value-Based Purchasing Webinar

Huge thanks to Todd Montigney and Diane Link of BlackTree Healthcare Consulting for their webinar today.  They discussed the implications of the 2016 Medicare rate changes and the proposed Value-Based Purchasing Model.  Massachusetts is one of nine states randomly selected by CMS to test a Medicare payment model that would increase payments to agencies that score high on quality measures, and penalize agencies that score low.  Diane did a particularly good job of explaining how CMS will compare agency performance on 29 quality measures with statewide benchmarks to calculate an overall score to determine how much an agency’s payments will be adjusted up or down.

If you missed the webinar, you can download the Powerpoint presentation here and click here to listen to a recording of the session for the next 14 days.

The Alliance will be preparing comments to CMS on the proposed update to Medicare rates as well as on the Value-Based Purchasing proposal, and would like to hear suggestions from members.

Are you looking forward to VBP, or are you dreading it?  What do you think of the 29 measures CMS plans to track – too many?  And how about their proposal to adjust rates in 2018 by as much as 5% up or down based on agencies’ quality scores in 2016?

Give us your thoughts by emailing to Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher by September 1st.  Or better yet, submit your own comments to CMS here.

Notice of Observation Status Law Signed by President

Legislation requiring hospitals to notify Medicare beneficiaries when they are technically in an outpatient “observation” status was recently signed into law by President Obama.

The NOTICE ACT (Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility) requires hospitals to inform patients of their status when they are in observation, but not officially admitted, for more than 24 hours and classified as an outpatient. A written notice must, among other points, state that the beneficiary’s outpatient stay will not count toward the three-day inpatient stay required for the individual to be eligible for Medicare coverage of a stay a skilled-nursing facility. Hospitals will have until August 2016 to comply with the new law.

The NOTICE Act is good news for the home health agencies because tracking the status of the patient hospital stay proved to be a challenge. Patients were often unaware of whether their stay with the hospital was an inpatient admission or an observation stay leaving the HHA uncertain if Transfer/ROC OASIS were needed. Now with the implementation of this notice the HHA will be able to determine an observation stay and know that a Transfer/ROC OASIS is not needed. An Agency may choose to complete a “Significant Change in Condition” OASIS (Reason for Assessment, 5- Other follow-up) based on their agency policy.

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