Candidate Questionnaire Response: Tom Basile (R)

Candidate Name
Tom Basile

Email Address

Major Party Endorsement Sought

Additional Party Lines Sought

Program Introduction

Consumer Directed Personal Assistance (CDPA) is a Medicaid program that empowers seniors and those with physical disabilities who need assistance with activities of daily living by giving them control over the delivery of their services. CDPA is critical to almost 40,000 people’s ability to live fulfilling and independent lives in their community. To meet their needs, over 60,000 people are needed to work as personal assistants (PAs), the direct care staff in this program. Consumers who use the service are the employer of their personal assistants (PAs), and are therefore responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, scheduling, supervising, and if necessary, terminating their staff. Key to this system is the tenet of “dignity of risk”, which recognizes that people with disabilities are equally capable of making decisions about their own care as the mainstream population.

A. Have you ever worked with CDPA consumers or the disability community in a private or professional capacity?
No. While I have never worked with CDPA consumers or the disability community, I grew up in a home with a disabled parent. I learned early on the importance of having qualified in-home assistance, the value of having access to a range of therapies and the overall needs of those who live with physical or other challenges. I’ve dealt with wheelchair access issues, helped with therapy and worked every day to help ensure someone believed that they had a chance to live a fulfilling life despite their physical condition.

B. On a scale of one to five (1-5), one being the least familiar and five being the most, what is your understanding of Medicaid long term services and supports (LTSS)?
3. Having spent time with Doug Hovey, President & CEO, and Julie Stainton, Community Relations & Marketing Manager, of Independent Living Inc., and attended their fundraising events, I have gained valuable insight into the services needed and available to those who need managed care in Newburgh and the surrounding areas of Orange County. The work is particularly important now as our communities are hit hard by the opioid crisis. The resources provided by the organization are invaluable not just because they help people live day to day, but because they help many thrive. Having a sense of self-worth is essential for all people. It helps them build a life and grow to help others. That is possible even for those with significant challenges.

C. Are there any changes you would make in the administration or provision of home care services, including CDPA?
Yes. If the program was to be modified in any way, we should put a premium on ensuring appropriate reimbursement rates for care and ensuring appropriate oversight of fiscal intermediaries while maintaining adequate consumer choice. Finally, we must make sure the CDPA program continues to provide our aging and disabled population have access to quality health services while also providing resources for those struggling with addiction.

D. What do you consider your primary accomplishments in relation to LTSS?
As part of the most recent budget, the Senate Republican Majority Conference has been extremely supportive of budget actions that not only ensure that LTSS types of programs are funded, but also to give qualified eligible providers access to capital funding to help ensure their long-term sustainability and possibly increase access to services for long term care recipients. As a new member of the Majority, I would work in partnership with other members to ensure that appropriate access to long term care services under Medicaid are readily and easily available to the state’s aging population and those that are disabled. Ensuring people are able remain in the community near their families and friends, as opposed to being placed in a nursing home or other institutional setting which is more costly and sometimes not the best care setting, would be a top priority of mine.

E. If elected, will you commit to meeting with CDPAANYS and representatives of the disability community and seek their input on issues impacting the delivery of their care?
Yes. As Senator, my door will always be open to CDPAANYS. You are on the front lines of the issues facing so many in our community. For members of your organization or those who receive services of CDPA we must have an ongoing, productive conversation so we can better support your work.

Expanding Access to CDPA and community-based long-term supports and services

[bg_collapse view=”link-list” color=”#4a4949″ expand_text=”Click here for background information on expanding access to CDPA and community-based LTSS.” collapse_text=”Show Less” ]Research has shown that CDPA meets the goals of the Triple Aim seamlessly by achieving better health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and lower costs. Because of this, as well as the program’s ability to offer flexibility and independence, New York’s Olmstead Plan identifies that CDPA should be the first choice for Medicaid recipients in need of long-term care.

Despite this, rapid growth within CDPA has led to attacks on the program from numerous sides. Proposals, some of which have been enacted, have sought to slow the growth of Medicaid by limiting the free speech rights of fiscal intermediaries in advertising services to consumers, limiting consumer choice of FIs, and facilitating institutionalization over community-based services.

Further, as the state continues to age, the increased need for long-term supports and services, both within Medicaid and among those who do not qualify for the program, is placing the entire system and those who rely on it under increasing strain. According to AARP, almost 2.6 million family caregivers provide 2.4 billion hours of uncompensated care each year in New York, at an estimated value of $31.3 billion. However, this care is far from free, as the impact to the economy in lost worker productivity is tremendous. This lost productivity also results in burn-out amongst family trying to balance caring for their loved ones while holding down a full-time job and often results in the early institutionalization of those who require services. Those who provide the services, usually women, often see their careers hindered due to lost promotions and raises because of the time they are taking to care for loved ones.

The continued reliance on unpaid family supports is not a viable long-term solution, nor is it consistent with New York’s values. We must ensure that individuals have adequate supports to provide them with the services they need, in the community, from the individuals they wish to provide them care, whether or not they are Medicaid recipients. In some instances, this may be paid or unpaid familial supports. In other cases, they may want paid home care providers, either through CDPA or a traditional home care agency.

A. Do you support efforts to increase awareness of and access to CDPA?
Yes. All those in need of support and assistance, who qualify for CDPA services, should be aware of all care options available to them. If they believe that CDPA services, like personal care, home health and nursing services, would provide them with the best quality care they should be made aware of the options available and have access to care and services in a cost efficient manner
B. If elected, will you oppose any policy that encourages institutionalization over community-based care?
Yes. When we can keep people in their homes surrounded by friends, family and a familiar environment it should always be prioritized. This improves people’s quality of life and helps them remain active and engaged members of our communities. To that end, as Senator I will be supportive of efforts and initiatives that provide access to care and services to individuals who would otherwise require nursing facility care to prevent premature and/or unwanted institutionalization. Institutionalization has more often than not historically proven to be the highest-cost option with lower quality outcomes.
C. If elected, will you support and implement policies aimed at promoting the New York State’s Olmstead Plan’s priority of ensuring CDPA is the first option available to all who need it?
Yes. As Senator, I will be an advocate for efforts ensure all individuals receive any/all appropriate and necessary care and services in the least restrictive environment possible.

D. If elected, will you support efforts to expand CDPA beyond a program that is only available to those on Medicaid and the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP)?
Yes. As mentioned before, we need to be supportive of all efforts to ensure those in need of care and services have access to efficient, high-quality, sustainable health care. Whenever possible, care management and a delivery system that integrates and coordinates patient care in the least restrictive manner should be the first option.
E. Will you oppose any effort infringing on consumer choice as it relates to CDPA or community based services, including efforts to limit the number of fiscal intermediaries who administer services on behalf of consumers?

F. If elected, will you ensure that long-term supports and services such as CDPA are included in any single payer proposal, such as New York Health?
Yes. While I do not support the implementation of a single-payer system, I believe that any effective model of health care must ensure access to high-quality long-term care and services.

Wages and the PA workforce crisis

[bg_collapse view=”link-list” color=”#4a4949″ expand_text=”Click here for background information on wages and the PA workforce crisis.” collapse_text=”Show Less” ]Home care, and in particular CDPA, has been one of the primary growth industries across the state over the last five years. Despite that, New York State finds itself in the midst of a workforce crisis for individuals receiving services at home. A CDPAANYS report entitled “The High Cost of Low Wages” revealed that more than half of consumers lived up to six months without essential support for critical activities of daily living while seeking a personal assistant (PA), and the majority of PAs cite low wages as their reason for quitting. There are many reasons that the state is in the midst of a workforce crisis; however, all of them are related to wages.

In 2006, Personal assistants (PAs), the workers in CDPA, earned approximately 150% of the minimum wage. Today, due to Medicaid reimbursement that is, on average, lower than it was a decade ago, being a PA is often a minimum wage position. Even fast food and retail jobs in the same regions often pay more per hour due to the higher minimum wage for fast food workers, a trend that will be made permanent Upstate, where the fast-food wage goes to $15.00/hr. while the minimum wage for all others stops at $12.50/hr.

While those who rely on homecare suffer because the government doesn’t invest in workers, that same government spends disproportionate sums of money on economic development projects that produce relatively few jobs for the investment. A recent investment of $750 million in Buffalo to build a new facility for SolarCity, amounts to, under the most generous calculations, spending $160,000 per job. Based only on the manufacturing and sales jobs they promised to create, it is closer to $541,000 per job.

Meanwhile, Medicaid reimbursement rates for CDPA have remained stagnant or decreased. This is true even though the cost of doing business continues to rise and the fact that personal care and CDPA are the fastest growing industries. According to Mercer Consulting, New York is facing a projected shortage of 20,000 homecare workers by 2022. Reimbursement rates were formerly adjusted according to what is commonly referred to as the trend factor, which ensured they were consistent with inflation. The trend factor was eliminated during the financial crisis in 2009 and has not been reinstated, despite the steady growth in costs since that year. The fallout from this stagnation has worsened since 2011 and made it increasingly difficult for FIs to remain financially solvent, forcing many to stop offering PAs pay raises, and in some cases, cutting hourly pay. A lack of transparency or accountability with managed care plans has exacerbated the downward spiral in reimbursement rates.

A. If elected, will you commit to a funded PA wage that is at least 150% of the state minimum wage with indexing to ensure that these jobs remain competitive with restaurant and retail work?
Yes. Providers of qualified, skilled care to people in need of home-care services should be able to offer a wage that ensure they can attract the best, most qualified candidates to deliver quality personal care and services. I would be supportive of ensuring those working in the field are compensated at a strong, competitive rate that matches their level of action.
B. If elected, will you commit to restoring the trend factor adjustment to Medicaid, once again allowing wages to increase with inflation?
Yes.  As Senator, it will be a priority for me to see that New York is ensuring residents have cost effective access to appropriate services, in the least restrictive environment.
C. If elected, will you commit to increasing transparency and accountability for managed care plans by requiring that they reimburse providers a sufficient amount to cover the basic costs of doing business?
D. If elected, will you commit to investing economic development money into home care and CDPA in order to ensure that the workforce exists to provide needed services to those who need them?
Yes. We need to be making smart investment in our state’s workforce, ensuring people have the skills they need to meet the demands of our area’s economy. That’s why I recently proposed a tax credit plan to help incentivize vocational training programs. I oppose the corporate welfare programs that waste taxpayer dollars and believe those resources should go toward projects and programs that yield results for our population. To that end, as Senator I will be supportive of shifting investments away from these wasteful programs to the long-term care sector that ensure quality services are available to those who need it in our area. These services should always be provided in the least restrictive settings while ensuring efficient and cost-effective use of state funds.

Community First Choice Option

[bg_collapse view=”link-list” color=”#4a4949″ expand_text=”Click here for background information on the Community First Choice Option.” collapse_text=”Show Less” ]The disability community fought for and won a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) called the Community First Choice Option (CFCO). CFCO incentivizes states to provide services to nursing home eligible individuals in the community by increasing the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), also known as the federal matching funds, for those services by 6%. In 2012, New York pledged to move forward with implementation of CFCO. New York received federal approval for these funds in October 2015; however, CFCO services critical to allowing individuals to live independently in the community remain unimplemented.

Further, reimbursement practices the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has flagged as discriminatory based on an individual’s disability type continue. The New York State Department of Health indicated that Fiscal Intermediaries in CDPA are reimbursed about $3 less per hour than licensed home care service agencies (LHCSAs), who provide personal care, and about $20 less per hour than community habilitation agencies within the developmental disabilities system. When CFCO was approved, the state was given one year to address this discrepancy. Despite the fact that the state has collected over $500 million in additional revenue through the extra 6% in additional FMAP funding, this problem remains unaddressed.

A. If elected, will you require DOH to implement all services included in the CFCO benefit package and break down the service silos that exist between different agencies that prevent proper service delivery today, including full supervision and cuing for those who need it separate from discreet activities of daily living?
The state needs to take a constructive look at the CFCO benefit package and ensure that nursing home eligible individuals can access appropriate, safe and quality care in the least restrictive setting.

B. If elected, will you ensure New York becomes compliant with CMS requirements and equalize reimbursement between CDPA, personal care, and community habilitation?
Yes. New York should strive to be compliant with federal requirements in all ways, but especially when it comes to ensuring people have the full array of health care options available to them. This includes ensuring that reimbursement rates for homecare are sufficient.