This week, I had the privilege of representing CAHSAH and the home care industry at NAHC’s Annual March on Washington. I want to acknowledge and thank the California delegation
Lucy Andrews, Millette Arredondo, Thomas Boyd, Paul Giles, Michelle Hofhine, Marcia Reissig, Tricia Ritchie, Neil Rotter, Matt Sempre, Ron Widick, Mark Wilson, along with Joe Hafkenschiel and Dean Chalios for their participation. The trip to Washington is a financial commitment along with a commitment to our industry. I applaud these individuals who took the long trip to DC.
On Monday, we were entertained by the Key Note speakers Alex Castellanos , political analyst for CNN News and Mark Shields, syndicated columnist and political analyst for PBS. They talked about the upcoming election and their individual spin on all of the candidates. Both of these pundits have been involved in presidential elections for the past 3 decades. It was interesting to hear their “war stories” of various democratic and republican candidates.
The rest of the day we attended various sessions that included ACO’s, Labor Unions, Labor Issues, and a Panel from CMS. Whether you were there representing Home Health Care, Hospice or Private Duty there were opportunities to learn for everyone.
On Tuesday, we boarded buses at the painful hour of 7AM to head over to “The Hill”. We walked 5 blocks in 35 degree temperature to the Russell Building that houses some of the Senate. Breakfast was convened in the historical room where the Watergate Hearings took place and where President Kennedy announced his candidacy for president. After a short introduction from Val Halamandaris we were addressed by Senators, Tom Carper, Delaware, Susan Collins, Maine, Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island, Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota and Ben Cardin, Maryland. The common thread all of these senators had is their understanding and their advocacy for the home care industry. It was a pleasure to be in the same room with elected officials who had the same passion for our services almost as much as us.
From there, we walked to the Capitol to begin our legislative visits. When they say timing is everything, they were not kidding. What a time to be in Washington. As you are aware the Supreme Court was in the middle of hearing the arguments over Health Care Reform, AKA Obama Care. In order to get to our meetings within the Capitol we had to walk by the 1000’s of demonstrators on both sides of the issue. The passion these people had in expressing their views exemplifies the meaning of freedom of speech and our democracy. The energy throughout Washington and around the Capitol was palpable.
We then proceeded to make our legislative visits both in the house and senate. The CAHSAH delegation met with both Senators and 10 Congress members. We keyed in on the issues of The Companion Exemption, rate decreases in Medicare and Medi-Cal, and the potential reimbursement for technology including Telehealth and Telemedicine. Some of our meetings fell on deaf ears, while others “got it”. One of my meetings was with Congressman Henry Waxman, a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee. The representative we met with, Amy Hall was a past employee of CMS, and understood our industry. She challenged us on the fraud and abuse issues within home health, citing the recent issues that took place in Houston. I believe we responded to her concerns with the positive effects our industry has both on the economics and social advantages of home care. By the end of our meeting I personally felt we were able to push the pendulum back a little to our side.
This is the second year I have attended The March on Washington. I will remember this as one of the highlights of my 32 year career as a home care provider. I urge all of you take the opportunity to attend NAHC’s event in the future.
CAHSAH Board Chair