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Legislative Advocacy is a Year-Round Opportunity for PHS and Families

There is an old adage around the Capitol that “no two legislative sessions are the same” – and this year certainly fit that bill. In an abbreviated session which ran from March 8 to May 23, representatives and senators had their work cut out for them to accomplish a good amount in a short period of time. PHS continued to be highly involved in this session to educate legislators on the health care our patients need and be a voice for this complex population.

Bills benefitting our patients

We were happy to see a number of bills pass during the 2016 session that will benefit the medically complex population we serve both in the hospital and at home.

  • Home care nurse Nick cares for Elsa at homeTechnical fix to de-link Medicare and Medicaid – after successfully de-linking Medicare and Medicaid last year to provide greater access to care for our patients, a technical fix was needed before implementation could take place – and a new bill passed this session to allow that. In short, access to care will be available for patients in need.
  • Hospital admissions designated caregiver – this bill requires hospitals to provide a patient the opportunity to designate a caregiver upon admission to the hospital, and then provide that caregiver with a discharge plan and aftercare instructions. While this won’t affect the pediatric population as frequently, it may help our adult population when applicable.
  • Pediatric hospice modification – the law previously limited a hospice patient to be someone diagnosed as terminally ill, with probable life expectancy of under a year. It now includes “21 years of age or younger and has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness contributing to a shortened life expectancy.”  This is helpful in obtaining coverage for patients in hospice.

A push for 5%

Recognizing the variance in pay between hospital-based nurses and home care nurses despite their roles requiring the same extensive training and delivery of high-tech, quality care, PHS has joined other organizations in campaigning for a 5% reimbursement increase for community-based health care workers (HCN nurses being included in this the population). While this large bill didn’t pass this session, the Best Life Alliance will continue this campaign next year as we lobby for nurses to be paid for what they do, not where they do it™.

Educating our legislators

While the 2016 session may have been short, the opportunity to educate and enlighten our local senators and representatives is available all year. Bill Amberg, Government Relations Counsel at PHS, works year-round to build relationships with legislators and ensure they are knowledgeable on the everyday lives and needs of such a complex population.

PHS parent meets with Representative Matt Dean in their homeOne of the most impactful way families can educate a legislator on what a day in the life of a medically complex child looks like is to actually show them. We encourage you to invite a local senator and representative (find yours here) to your home, where they can see firsthand just what it takes to keep your child healthy and out of the hospital – because nobody knows their day to day needs and concerns better than you. PHS mom Kari hosted her representative for the morning in March, and PHS joined her – we are always happy to accompany you in these meetings. Meetings could also take place at a coffee shop in your district, at their office in the capitol, or somewhere else you’re comfortable getting together.

Additionally, there are a lot of ways to be involved even if you don’t prefer to have a face to face meeting. Want to learn more? We’ve listed it all out for you on our legislative page.

Although the session has ended, PHS will be continuing to lobby for its patient population in the government this week and every week.

Originally published: July 7, 2016