Advocates of legislation to establish an Advanced Home Health Aide (AHHA) program before the end of the 2015 legislative session have met with New York State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), chair of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee, in order to persuade LaValle to push the proposal to the Senate floor, officials said.
Proponents of the legislation, which was a part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget, said the bill would allow home health aides to perform more health care tasks with additional training, and allow nurses to assign certain health-related tasks to AHHAs, so people with disabilities and older adults can live in their own homes, instead of nursing homes.
However, according to advocates from the Center for Disability Rights, the legislation must pass through LaValle’s committee, yet, he has remained opposed to the legislation.
“This is a small change that will make a big difference,” said Adam Prizio, manager of government affairs at CDR. “The data shows that people who receive these services at home have better health outcomes, live longer, and are more integrated into our society. The AHHAs will help thousands of people to live in the community, regardless of their disability.”
Sixteen other states, including New Jersey and Washington, currently allow nurses to assign more tasks to paid aides, according to officials, which includes responsibilities such as administering eye and ear drops, and performing nebulizer treatments. Supervising nurses must sign off on the aides’ duties.
The legislation’s supporters said the bill would also save the state millions in Medicaid costs, as well as allow the state to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s Community First Choice option, bringing in up to $350 million in Medicaid reimbursements.
“I don’t understand why the Senate is obstructing the AHHA program that will help thousands of people with disabilities and seniors live in the community,” said Bruce Darling, CEO of CDR. “At the same time, the Senate is throwing away millions of dollars in additional funding to the state, which should appall every taxpayer.”
A coalition of organizations has urged the Senate to negotiate the creation of the program this year, and lawmakers will have until the end of this year’s legislative session to act on the proposal.
The proposal passed the Assembly on May 19, but has stood at an impasse in the Senate. This year’s legislative session ends June 17.