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.