HCA and Board Meet with Assembly Health Leaders on Proposed Cuts, Home Care First, Workforce, and Telehealth  

Situation Report | February 22, 2021

Over the past several days, HCA and members of our Board of Directors met with the Assembly Health Committee’s Chairman, Richard Gottfried, and its Ranking Member, Kevin Byrne, to discuss our budget and legislative priorities.

Board members described in concrete ways how home care is a solution on many scores, but particularly during the public health emergency, calling on legislators to restore cuts proposed in the budget and adopt HCA’s “Home Care First” proposal.

As we’ve stressed throughout the past weeks, the home care option has too often been overlooked or bypassed by referral sources, even when considering increased demand during the pandemic. HCA’s proposals would update the state’s referral structures, program policies, and other finance provisions so that care at home is a first consideration for patient care, where suitable.

Board members spoke not only about the impact of the proposed cuts, but also about longstanding workforce issues and concerns, and the need for telehealth support in home care, noting that the Governor’s proposed telehealth expansion does not explicitly recognize home care despite home care’s pioneering use of technology for the care of all populations, including specialized services for medically fragile children.

Both Assembly Members Gottfried and Byrne were especially interested in our amendments to the Governor’s telehealth proposal aimed at ensuring its inclusiveness of tele-flexibility and reimbursement in home care. They asked for follow-up details from HCA. Assembly Member Gottfried also asked for a further briefing about remotely administered aide training programs and the need for further flexibility after HCA described some hurdles of the hybrid aide training model developed by the state Department of Health (DOH). That hybrid model, advanced at HCA’s urging, is a first step on access to aide training in the pandemic but nevertheless remains restrictive in its implementation by DOH.

Assembly Member Byrne asked for more information about areas of regulatory flexibility that should be extended or made permanent beyond the public health emergency — another plank of our priorities. In response, HCA briefly described some areas related to health assessments, aide supervision and others, offering to follow up with the Assembly Member on additional details.

HCA is continuing to schedule more Board-level meetings in the coming days leading up to the February 25 joint legislative hearing on Medicaid and the health care budget, at which we will be testifying. These advance briefings are an important stage setter for legislators to hear our concerns and raise them in questions posed to Executive officials at this week’s hearing.

Please also be on the lookout soon for further information about our March 9 state advocacy day when we’ll be inviting all of HCA’s members for discussions with state legislators. HCA’s advocacy documents and a calendar of events are on our state advocacy page here.