Situation Report | April 26, 2021
Lawmakers returned to Albany last week following their nearly two-week legislative recess and passage of the state budget. Upon their return, legislation continued to be introduced and lawmakers passed end-of-session priorities.
HCA met and discussed with the Legislature our own end-of-session priorities, including proposals and strategies to address home health and hospice workforce needs, the Licensed Home Care Services Agency (LHCSA) request for offers (RFO), fiscal intermediary (FI) proposals, telehealth, and other issues.
The state Senate moved a flurry of bills to the floor calendar, including a bill that would allow the state Department of Health to post competency exams for out-of-state employees who could assist with home care access by providing services in New York. While we appreciate the intent of this measure, we believe that this mechanism — which would place responsibility for competency in the hands of the state — may result in costs and delays that create more state and workforce bottlenecks. The bill language, which was initially removed from a final budget agreement, is expected to be taken up by the Senate today. We will keep members updated as details emerge.
Members of the HCA Public Policy team also met last week with staff from both the Senate and Assembly Health Committees. Of key importance is how the state intends to spend the $1.6 billion in workforce funding that was appropriated in a final budget agreement. HCA is seeking a principal role in working with the Legislature and Executive to design this initiative for maximal support of the home care workforce.
Each house declared that HCA should examine and propose mechanisms for distribution of these funds. In turn, we are urging lawmakers to adopt HCA’s rate and provider funding structure for home care workforce that would be built into provider rates, including funds for enhanced wages and other non-wage supports as well as a framework to address workforce shortage regions or disciplines.
The offices have indicated to HCA that the funds are expected to be widely disbursed to community health providers and organizations, inclusive of home care but not solely for home care. It was suggested that approximately $700 million of these monies are intended to be allocated for home care workers.
During these meetings, HCA also urged the Legislature’s repeal of the LHCSA RFO, and to restudy the issues and objectives for more appropriate options. We also urged new FI language beyond that included in the state budget to allow for the consideration and continuation of currently qualified entities.
HCA also discussed the need for telehealth flexibility and reimbursement for home care, as well as guardrails for what may be many new providers entering telehealth. While the final state budget excluded some of the more extensive measures contained in the Governor’s Executive State Budget proposal, it is expected that telehealth discussions will resume in the final weeks of the legislative session. HCA will continue to advocate our telehealth measures to both houses and the Executive.
The legislature is is expected to adjourn June 10, leaving lawmakers, advocates and stakeholders fewer than six weeks to engage on key legislative matters. HCA will continue meeting with lawmakers regularly on our post-budget priorities and encourages providers to engage with lawmakers, as well.
For questions or concerns about HCA’s end-of-session priorities, or how to engage with lawmakers, please contact Alyssa Lovelace.