With Legislative Session Over, It’s Time to Redouble on Key Home Care Priorities

Capitol Report | June 2021

In the whirlwind state legislative session finale early this month, the Senate and Assembly thankfully reconsidered passage of several bills that would have enormously burdened home care providers still struggling in the pandemic.

Home care’s needs are urgent; and, of course, the overall health and safety threat of COVID-19 remains with us.

Because these pandemic struggles persist, there’s also much work to do post-session to help. While the state’s declared health emergency may be over, home care and hospice providers are still coping with the lingering aftermath of COVID’s devastation in severe financial, operational, and staffing terms.

Likewise, while the state’s legislative session may be over, now is the time to act on post-session priorities. These include: introduction of HCA’s ‘Home Care First’ legislation, support for HCA’s proposed telehealth equity language for home care and hospice, supporting workers and home care infrastructure, and undoing harmful initiatives like a pending move by the state Health Department to limit constituents’ home care contractors in their communities.

Legislation to fully repeal this latter process — namely the Licensed Home Care Services Agency (LHCSA) Request For Offers (RFO) — was introduced in both houses but did not make it to a floor vote prior to adjournment, despite united stakeholder calls for a more rational approach in place of the RFO. (See our press release for further details here.)

In this post-session period, we ask that you join us in urging appropriate parameters for the state’s RFO process. This will help avoid a unilateral dismantling of the home care system at a time when services are needed more than ever.

Workforce Focus, Home Care First, Telehealth and More

HCA is pleased to see that the Senate’s Health, Aging, and Labor Committees are convening two focused hearings on home care workforce needs in July, and we hope this can be a catalyst for broad support.

As you’ve read from federal discussions, the Biden Administration is putting a big focus on home care services as part of the President’s infrastructure agenda, proposing $400 billion in funds for home and community-based services over eight years. We urge state leaders to think big too.

We also look forward to engaging with your offices on HCA’s ‘Home Care First’ legislation which we have submitted for new and trailblazing introduction, as well as legislation to support accessibility to home telehealth services that providers have greatly relied on in the pandemic.

The Cuomo Administration advanced several telehealth reforms early in the year, some of which were adopted in the state budget. Our understanding is that the Senate and Assembly plan to convene a broader discussion about further telehealth reforms. HCA welcomes the opportunity to offer our proposals that would assure patient safeguards and equity of standards and payment for home care providers who have pioneered the practice of home telehealth in New York State.

For a briefing on any of these issues, please don’t hesitate to reach HCA’s Director for Public Policy and Advocacy Alyssa Lovelace at alovelace@hcanys.org.