HCA Advocacy Day Well Timed in Lead-Up to One-House Bills

Situation Report | March 15, 2021

HCA held a productive and well-timed state advocacy day program on March 9 where HCA’s Board and members heard from legislators and their staff representing decisive committee leadership in the Senate and Assembly.

The program was an important opportunity to connect with State Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera, Senate Committee on Aging Chair Rachel May, Assembly Ranking Health Committee Member Kevin Byrne, and Monica Miller, Legislative Associate for Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (who was unable to attend due to legislative duties).

All four representatives spoke about their offices’ priorities for the budget. They pledged support for home care and provided a preview of each house’s overall position in anticipation of the one-house budget proposals that were later released by the Senate and Assembly on Friday and throughout the weekend (see related story here). Those one-house proposals now set the stage for further negotiations with the Governor, leading up to the April 1 budget deadline.

Guest legislative presenters touched upon a range of issues, including questions about the merits of the state’s global Medicaid cap and the need to restore Medicaid funds in the budget that are currently slated for cuts under the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal.

The legislators and staff also discussed specific bills their offices are sponsoring, like Senator May’s proposal requiring a statewide salary threshold for home care aides. Senator May also discussed another bill that would direct the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) to dedicate 30 percent of their annual funding to growth of the caregiving industry.

HCA again expressed appreciation to Senator May for her focus on workforce needs in home care. On the compensation bill, in particular, we again reiterated our concerns about the need for provider funding assurances, especially given a history where past changes in compensation thresholds — while all laudable goals — have not been paired with commensurate, consistent, or direct rate increases to cover plan or provider costs of these mandates.

HCA members also talked about their specific experiences in the pandemic, including many of the concerns outlined in our State of the Industry report, with a particular focus on state Department of Health survey activities that have consumed staff attention at a time of immense direct-care needs. The state’s actions have often placed impractical demands on agencies having to accommodate information requests from state agencies remotely during a pandemic and other concerns.

HCA and members stressed that we appreciate the imperative of state oversight of long term care providers and services, but not at the current level of procedural imposition and rigidity, given the demands of the pandemic.

Meet With Your Legislator Today

Have you taken our Virtual Advocacy Challenge? We are asking members to meet with their lawmakers throughout the month of March to echo our “Home Care First” agenda. Those who do so and complete our online form will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. Get the details and resources here.

Please also use our Legislative Action Center campaign to send a message to your legislators here; plus, watch and share our Home Care First video advocacy campaign which also has an important call-to-action for you, your staff, patients and the public.