Updated: May 29, 2020
By Charla Wright
On February 6, I had the honor of attending the In-Home Services Day at our State’s Capitol in Olympia to support home health, hospice and home care issues that affect our growing and aging community.
In-Home Services Day is sponsored by the Home Care Association and Washington State Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. These organizations are on board with several initiatives which affect care in skilled nursing, home care, palliative and hospice care to patients in their home instead of more expensive settings and help prevent readmissions, which overall, will reduce costs of healthcare.
There were six pieces we focused on during the day while meeting with our representatives. I met with Senator Van De Wege, Representative Tharinger and Representative Chapman; all of which were very responsive and listened attentively to my concerns and challenges specific to the peninsula.
One of the most important pieces of legislation is SB 5828, supported by the industry to address Medicaid home health reimbursement rates for medical assistant clients. The bill proposes to match home health Medicaid rates to Medicare rates and create a workgroup within the Health Care Authority. Which in my opinion, if facilities were paid the same rate for both Medicaid and Medicare, would open so many more beds to meet patient care needs; a desperate need in our community.
A second piece of legislation was the SB 5460 (HB1882) Nursing Licensure Compact which would allow Washington to join a group of 29 other states to honor nursing licenses from other states to ease the burden of transferring nurses into our area so they are able to join the work force. We have a huge deficit in nursing staff and passing this senate bill would help our facilities and hospitals better staff nurses and provide patient care.
One of the more forward thinking legislation pieces is SB 5331 (SHB 1087) Long-Term Care Trust Act. Employees will pay into their benefit for a minimum of six years before being eligible to access the benefit. This will reduce the burden to the state’s Medicaid program over time while supporting a person’s right to remain home as long as possible.
A budget proviso close to my passion is the “Palliative Care Roadmap” was also included. Many of you have seen the “Dementia Road Map,” which was created and printed for families of those who are entering the world of caring for a loved one with dementia. Now, we are moving forward with a committee to design and print the same type of booklet but for palliative care as a valuable tool in assisting patients and their families while navigating the palliative care and hospice labyrinth.
The last two items we asked our legislators to be cognizant of was the Governor’s Adult Private Duty Nurse Rate Increase, which asked for parity for children’s nursing rates. Right now, a nurse providing care in the same facility for an adult makes a greater hourly rate than a nurse providing care for an infant. We asked for parity in wages for all nurses, regardless of the ages of the patient. Finally, we opposed an increase to the B & O tax impacting in-home services agencies as it would significantly impact many of our smaller home care, home health and hospice care agencies to provide affordable care to our elderly clients.
As an active member of our community, chamber and Advisory Council for Clallam County, issues affecting our community and care of our vulnerable populations is of utmost importance to my work. If there is a concern to you, please reach out to me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assured Hospice of Clallam & Jefferson Counties
Patient Care Representative