Effective January 1, a new Connecticut state law now require home care agencies to conduct a local and national criminal background check of prospective employees. Also, under the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, benefit payments begin for approved paid leave benefit applications.
On Monday, as the state experienced an Omicron variant-driven surge in coronavirus cases to a positivity rate of almost 11%, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced plans to distribute three million COVID-19 rapid tests and six million N95 masks in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19 during the heavy travel and holiday season.
On Monday at the state Capitol building in Hartford, Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (Stratford) and Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore Paul Formica (East Lyme), hosted a press conference calling for immediate action to support HCBS providers, workers and vulnerable individuals in home care settings. HCAOA Connecticut Chapter members Jonah Francis, President of Pansy Homecare Service in West Hartford (pictured), and Mario D’Aquila, Chief Operating Officer of Assisted Living Services, Inc. in Cheshire, both spoke in support of the pending Medicaid rate increase.
Last week, the Connecticut Department of Public Health began issuing civil penalties to long-term care facilities subject to Executive Order 13F, which mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals who work in the facilities, the agency announced. Long-term care facilities subject to the EO include nursing homes, assisted living services agencies, managed residential communities, residential care homes, chronic disease hospitals, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. “These vaccine mandates are in place to protect not only the patients and residents in long-term care but to ensure the health and safety of staff and their families and co-workers,” said DPH Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD.
The Connecticut legislature, at the recent call of Governor Ned Lamont, met in special session this week to extend the Governor’s emergency authority through February 15, 2022. This was the sixth extension of the Governor’s emergency powers since March 2020, according to the Hartford Courant. Most of the hundreds of executive orders issued by the Governor since then have expired but about a dozen remain, including one requiring vaccinations for workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Last Tuesday, more than 70 home care providers gathered in Rocky Hill for the HCAOA Connecticut Chapter meeting. During the event state Consumer Protection Department officials discussed homemaker-companion registration, the investigations and audit process, and advertising requirements. Commissioner Michelle Seagull discussed the need for providers to obtain a license from the Department of Public Health if they are offering any healthcare-related services and noted recent changes to background check requirements effective Jan. 1, 2022.
Yesterday, the HCAOA Connecticut State Chapter held a successful networking lunch meeting. Chapter leaders also met with officials from the Department of Consumer Protection, including Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, Department of Consumer Protection.
Mark McGoldrick, Chair of the HCAOA Connecticut Chapter and owner of Comfort Keepers, and Matthew Hallisey, lobbyist for HCAOA, presented the Chapter's 2020 Outstanding Leadership Award to state Rep. Gale L. Mastrofrancesco (80th Dist., Wolcott), last Thursday at the state Capitol in Hartford. Rep. Mastrofrancesco said she was "so proud" to receive the award as Mr. McGoldrick noted her experience in and support for the home care industry. She was one of two state legislators recognized last year by the Chapter in an online program for her outstanding service and dedication in support of the home care industry in Connecticut. The presentation of the award was delayed due to the pandemic.
Several state agency officials presented details of the investment plan for proposed uses of the home and community-based services enhanced match, including provider rate increases, to the Aging, Human Services and Appropriations committees last week. Under the plan, HCBS waiver providers will receive a one-time estimated 5% stabilization payment to be paid in the third (current) quarter, which the OPM Secretary said can be used for investments in the workforce (retention bonuses or new hires); 1.7% across-the-board rate increase, authorized under the new state budget, effective July 1, 2021; and supplemental rate funding.
CONNECTICUT: Featured Speakers from Department of Consumer Protection to Discuss Audit Process & Advertising Claims
Home care agencies are invited to a luncheon program to connect with key state officials in the Department of Consumer Protection. Featured speakers include Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, Department of Consumer Protection who will present: Registration of Home Care Agencies and Enforcement of Chapter 400o.
At long last, HCAOA Connecticut's advocacy efforts and members' grassroots support have paid dividends in the form of Medicaid waiver rate increases issued by the Department of Social Services for HCBS. HCBS waiver providers will receive a one-time estimated 5% stabilization payment to be paid in the 3rd (current) quarter; 1.7% across-the-board rate increase, authorized under the new state budget, effective Jul. 1, 2021; and supplemental rate funding (see reinvestment plan for details).
The Department of Social Services issued home health services rate increases, effective August 1, 2021, of 6% for home health aides, 31.7% for pediatric complex care skilled nursing service, and 3.5% for all other home health services except continuous skilled nursing. DSS has not yet issued rate increases for homemaker-companion services but the department and Office of Policy and Management are well aware of HCAOA Connecticut's concerns about minimum wage increases effective August 1.