MA Legislative/Regulatory Preview for 2018

On Wednesday January 3rd , the Massachusetts Legislature returned for the second year of its two-year session. After a seven-week recess, the body is looking at a traditionally busier second half than the first. The nearly 170 bills that passed in 2017 marked the lowest total in twenty years.

Lawmakers have until July 31 to complete all substantial legislative debate. In addition, all 200 members are up for election in 2018, which is expected to be a distraction from normal legislative work as a result of a polarized political landscape. Here’s what the Alliance will be focused on in 2018:

Workforce Issues:

Prior to the Holiday break, the Alliance met with its ‘Enough Pay to Stay’ partners to strategize coordinated efforts to attain wage relief for direct care workers and ASAP case managers. The coalition has pending legislation which would take steps toward this initiative, but we will pursue other legislative vehicles to fight for our workforce.

Worker Registry:

In November, Governor Baker signed into law the Home Care Worker Registry. This law will establish a worker registry that requires agencies contracting with ASAPs to submit workers’ private information to the state. The law is enacted and subject to regulations. The Alliance and its partners are in active communication regarding next steps toward protecting our members and their workers’ rights.

Licensure:

The FY 2018 State Budget included language that will establish a licensure process for home health agencies providing skilled services. It is unclear at this point when the process to promulgate regulations will begin, but the Alliance will be providing input to the Department of Public Health as these parameters are developed. In addition, Alliance-sponsored legislation that would license private care agencies is still making its way through the legislative process. Under procedural rules, the legislature has until February to report legislation out of committee. The Alliance will continue to advocate for passage of this legislation.

Continuous Skilled Nursing:

In late 2017, MassHealth announced two rate increases for the Continuous Skilled Nursing (CSN) program that totaled nearly 11 million. This was welcomed news, but there remains work to be done. The CSN provider/parent coalition will continue to advocate for the CSN Bill of Rights legislation that would mandate bi-annual reviews of the workforce to ensure safeguards against future crises.

MassHealth Rates:

The Alliance has been informed that MassHealth will conduct a long-overdue review of rates for per-visit nursing, therapies, and home health aide services.  The Alliance will be working to gather data to demonstrate that the current low rates are interfering with agencies’ ability to attract and retain enough workers to meet the demand for services.

MassHealth Reorganization:

MassHealth’s initiative to enroll the majority of members into managed care programs this coming spring will dramatically change the way MassHealth members access home health services, and disrupt many existing provider referral relationships.  The Alliance will continue to work to ensure that MassHealth members retain access to needed home health services, and that agencies are adequately reimbursed for those services.

House of Representative Health Care Bill:

Late last year the Senate passed a health care cost containment bill aimed at curbing costs while maintaining access. It has long been rumored that the House will be embarking on similar initiatives. Though the details are scarce, this legislation could be a vehicle for many of the Alliances priorities in 2018 and we will continue to advocate where necessary.

If you have any questions about the year ahead for advocacy or would like to get involved, reach out to Jake Krilovich, the Alliance’s Director of Legislative and Public Affairs.

2016-2017 Aides Teleconference Series Upcoming Schedule

Every month the Home Care Alliance of Ma shares the opportunity for Aides to gain their education hours needed by promoting teleconferences put on by the North Carolina Association. Why Participate? An investment in staff education is an investment in quality customer service for all types of agencies. For home health and hospice agencies, these hour-long teleconferences can be used to help meet the 12 hours per year educational requirements under the Medicare Conditions of Participation. For all providers, an educational investment in your staff pays off in quality care!

See below for the upcoming teleconferences available for purchase:

October 13, 2016
TOPIC: No Tricks & No Treats – What Aides Need to Know to Protect Themselves from Negative Accusations & Investigations
Speaker: Sherry Thomas, BSN, MPH
Description: It’s no treat to be investigated by the Federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) … scary sounding…yes? Have you ever heard of the OIG Exclusions List? That is a list you do not want to be on!! Are you aware that federal regulations can prohibit you ever working again in an agency such as a certified home health, hospice, Personal Care Services or a waiver program for seniors that receive federal funding like Medicare and Medicaid? Come join me as we talk about how you can land on this list and an aide’s responsibility to be above reproach. Don’t let the words fraud, abuse, neglect, misappropriation of property or drugs come near your good name. Handouts will include an Aide’s Code of Ethics!

November 10, 2016
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Patient Centered Care
Speaker: Kathie Smith, RN
Description: Patient Centered Care focuses on the patient as an individual and takes into account the individual person’s likes, dislikes and what makes for a “good day” along with the tasks necessary to carry out the assigned plan of care. This teleconference will focus on how to see the patient as a unique individual in providing patient centered care.

December 8, 2016
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Understanding Mental Health Disorders
Speaker: Cindy Morgan, RN, MSN, CHC, CHPN
Description: This presentation will explore some mental health disorders that may create challenges for the Nurse Aide in the home setting. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness approximately 43.8 million adults or 1 in 5 adults in the U.S experiences mental illness annually. Chances are that some of the patients we care for in the home may be experiencing some sort of mental illness. Learn strategies that can help you when caring for these patients.

January 12, 2017
TOPIC: Who Can Sleep Tight…When Bed Bugs Bite!
Speaker: Kathie Smith, RN
Description: Bed bugs have been common in U.S. history. Although bed bug populations dropped dramatically during the mid-20th century, the United States is one of many countries now experiencing an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency bed bugs are a public health pest. While bed bugs have not been shown to transmit disease, they do cause a variety of negative physical health, mental health and economic consequences. This teleconference will cover the negative effects of bed bugs, how to identify bed bugs and tips in preventing and treating bed bugs.

February 9, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Working with the Immobile Patient
Speaker: John Conrad
Description: Immobility and long periods of inactivity are harmful to elderly patients and can lead to a further loss of ambulation and strength as well as the increased risk of falls. Patients suffering a loss of mobility can also become depressed. Immobility can impact and cause serious health complications – including blood clots, urinary tract infection and respiratory complications. In-home aides play a vital role in helping to increase/maintain patient mobility and in preventing serious negative impacts.

March 9, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Confidentiality and HIPAA
Speaker: Michelle White, MSN, RN
Description: This workshop will focus on assisting your In-Home Aides in understanding HIPAA and confidentiality guidelines. This workshop will offer practical tips to ensure that the para-professional adheres to the required privacy standards. Also included: the impact of social media such as Facebook, My Space, YouTube and cell phones, text messages, etc.

April 13, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Working with a Terminal Client & Their Family
Speaker: Cindy Morgan, RN, MSN, CHC, CHPN
Description: What does it mean to be terminally ill? This presentation will define terminally ill as well as some of the different aspects of care that are so important to the patients and families facing a terminal illness. Learn about the trajectory of terminal illness and what to expect when the patient is nearing the end of life.

May 11, 2017
TOPIC: The Aide’s Role in Infection Control in Home Care & Hospice
Speaker: Michelle White, MSN, RN
Description: This workshop will focus on understanding the basic principles of infection prevention and control. This workshop will also focus on Blood Borne Pathogens and the principles surrounding transmission and methods in which the aide can protect themselves and the patient.

June 8, 2017
TOPIC: Eagle Eye Aides – Recognizing Key Patient Abnormalities
Speaker: Sherry Thomas, BSN, MPH
Description: You are in the first line of patient defense! You are the boots on the ground as far as helping to identify that something is “wrong” with your patient. You are the Eagle Eye Aide! Join this teleconference to learn how to recognize the subtle and not so subtle changes in your patient that is the first clue that something is amiss patient wise and what then to report to your supervisor!

Click Here to go to our Events Calendar to register for one or more of these great programs!