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Advocacy

Advocacy…for the right public policy, for the right reasons

In order to provide quality services that consumers can trust, we must advocate for public policies that remove barriers to care, improve payments and keep quality at the forefront of decision making. We all should be engaged in the process. LeadingAge Oklahoma tracks legislation and regulatory updates to make sure that policy makers understand how changes will impact our members and the people they serve.

And we share this information with you to help you understand the issues. Your work as an advocate is crucial to motivating legislators and other policymakers.  We provide tools that summarize the issues, provide sample letters and lead you directly to emails of your members of Congress. Visit here often to engage in advocacy that will create the future of aging services.

View our Grassroots Connector to learn how to advocate efficiently and effectively.  Contact Congress.

For more information, contact Mary Brinkley, mary@leadingageok.org  405-640-8040.

Advocacy 2017

Senior Day at the Capitol will have a new look in 2017 but the same focus: our elderly and disabled

We invite each and every organization that is concerned with the care and services for the elderly and disabled to be a part of this important day at the Capitol.  Work is underway to plan a special advocacy event to focus on funding for programs and services for the elderly and disabled and issues of importance for these Oklahomans.

If you are interested in being a part of this important event:

Sponsor for the ballcaps for all attendees, estimated at 750: 5 sponsorships of $500 each

Sponsor for attendee materials: $500

Volunteers to assist with onsite responsibilities the day of the event: 25 dedicated volunteers

Organizations needed to participate and bring advocates and seniors to the Capitol: unlimited

Contact: Mary Brinkley, mary@LeadingAgeOK.org if you would like to help with any of the above.

LeadingAge OK is one of several organizations committed to making this event happen in 2017. We invite your participation!

Watch this page for the date of the event and additional details.

StandUp Flyer   REGISTER NOW

Medicaid Cuts Announced for June 1, 2016

Details of Medicaid Cuts:

Message from Nico Gomez, OHCA CEO

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) will begin its public notification process to reduce SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) provider rates by 25 percent effective June 1, 2016, in anticipation of the state fiscal year 2017 appropriation. 

It takes OHCA 60 days to implement rate changes because of public notification requirements. It takes 90 days for changes to impact the budget due to claim lag. It is imperative the agency achieve savings during the 12-month period; otherwise, the cut will be larger to achieve the savings during a shorter period of time. It is also possible that if the agency’s appropriation is reduced more, additional provider rate cuts will be required. In addition to the 25 percent provider rate cut, the agency will also propose to eliminate payment for coinsurance and deductibles on all crossover claims.

I do not take these cuts lightly; as the state’s largest health insurer, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority underpins the entire fabric of the state’s health care system that serves all Oklahomans. I worry about the infrastructure of our state’s health care system in light of these cuts.

I would encourage you to engage in conversations about long-term solutions to our crisis and other alternatives to these devastating cuts that are looming. We felt advising you at this time was important to plan for this contingency from a business perspective. We thank you for the loving care you provide to our SoonerCare members.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) will begin its public notification process to reduce SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) provider rates by 25 percent effective June 1, 2016, in anticipation of the state fiscal year 2017 appropriation. 

It takes OHCA 60 days to implement rate changes because of public notification requirements. It takes 90 days for changes to impact the budget due to claim lag. It is imperative the agency achieve savings during the 12-month period; otherwise, the cut will be larger to achieve the savings during a shorter period of time. It is also possible that if the agency’s appropriation is reduced more, additional provider rate cuts will be required. In addition to the 25 percent provider rate cut, the agency will also propose to eliminate payment for coinsurance and deductibles on all crossover claims.

I do not take these cuts lightly; as the state’s largest health insurer, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority underpins the entire fabric of the state’s health care system that serves all Oklahomans. I worry about the infrastructure of our state’s health care system in light of these cuts.

I would encourage you to engage in conversations about long-term solutions to our crisis and other alternatives to these devastating cuts that are looming. We felt advising you at this time was important to plan for this contingency from a business perspective. We thank you for the loving care you provide to our SoonerCare members.

Nico Gomez | Chief Executive Officer
Oklahoma Health Care Authority | 4345 N. Lincoln | Oklahoma City, OK 73105


Member Advocacy Request April 4, 2016

 advocacy-alert

There are 57 days until June 1, 2016, the date for the 25% Medicaid provider rate cut. In order to avoid these drastic cuts, each and every provider must make a commitment to being a part of the solution! We need your voice and without a total outpouring of opposition, we could face the dismantling of the long term care network in Oklahoma!

We need the following:

1.    Have 10 people call your Legislator and Representative today and every day. Share how these cuts will impact your community: cuts in staffing, cuts in wages, cancellation of your Medicaid contract, or closure. These calls can come from staff, families, residents, community leaders or anyone concerned about LTC in OK!

2.    Write your legislators this week, hopefully today or tomorrow. Outline the specific impact of the cuts to your community and the greater community. See “Notice” at the end of this email. Email a copy of the letter to mary@LeadingAgeOK. I need to know these specifics as I will be meeting with ALL legislators to reinforce your concerns.

3.    Send a notice to your local paper with a copy of the letter mailed to your legislator. Ask them to do a story about the impact of the cuts for the local economy such as loss of revenue, jobs, and access to services.

4.    Ask them to support the Medicaid Rebalancing Act.

NOTICE:

LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES AND SERVICES AT UNPRECEDENTED RISK!

URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT! 

ACT NOW!

You must write to your state legislators and send letters to the editors in your local newspapers immediately!  Information is provided below!  Survival of Medicaid and many long-term care services in Oklahoma are at grave risk!

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has announced that it has been forced to cut all Medicaid provider rates by 25% effective June 1, 2016!  This reduction in rates includes your staff, pharmacy, and anything billed under SoonerCare.

These 25% cuts will be catastrophic for all providers! Please detail the realistic effects of the cuts to your facilities and services each month the cuts endure (1 month, 6 months,1 year, 4 years), and send letters describing the results of the losses to your Oklahoma State Senator and your Oklahoma State House of Representatives member. See attached list.

In your letter, you might also consider describing the following:

1.    How many frail and elderly members of the Legislator’s district will be left homeless if you must close?

2.    How many people will lose their jobs in their districts if you must close?

3.    How will care for seniors will be harmed if revenue is reduced?

4.    What will happen to your community or to small towns in rural Oklahoma when the nursing home or your facility or the hospital…is forced to close its doors, because the 25% cuts are just too deep?

The physical health and the financial well-being of entire communities will suffer, as other businesses dependent upon the hospital or nursing home are affected as well.  Explain these relationships in your communities.  Make it personal and relatable.

5.    Draconian cuts to Medicaid affect everyone.  One in three Oklahomans must depend upon Medicaid for care. Some of those may be your parents or grandparents, your neighbors….or any one you know that is a major catastrophe or illness away from needing such assistance.

There is a solution!  Please ask your state legislators and the public, in your letters to legislators and letters to the editor, to support the Medicaid Rebalancing Act, and the state resources for matching funds.  This Act will bring millions of our federal tax dollars back home for the benefit of Oklahomans! This Act:

1.    Restores Medicaid provider rates to their current levels as soon as possible.

2.    Adds 350,000 new lives to the private health insurance market

3.    Reduces SoonerCare enrollment by 35%

4.    Insures 175,000 Oklahomans that are currently uninsured

5.    Reduces our states uninsured rate by a whopping 35% – reducing the uncompensated care burden on hospital

6.    Protects access to care for current Medicaid and non-Medicaid recipients in both rural and urban settings

7.    Strengthens Oklahoma’s behavioral health and substance abuse system

8.    Supports Drug Courts and Mental Health Courts and Protects Crisis Centers

Impact of Medicaid Cuts Would Reverberate Across the State

Op-Ed by Mary Brinkley
Post:  http://newsok.com/oklahoma-nonprofit-official-medicaid-cuts-would-reverberate-across-state/article/5490438?custom_click=rss

Impact of Medicaid Cuts to Rural Nursing Homes
http://www.koco.com/news/Medicaid-cuts-may-have-devastating-impact-on-rural-Oklahoma-health-care-economy/38903756

Letter to Legislature from the DHS Citizens Advisory Panel on Aging Issues
http://leadingageok.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/2016-CAP-AGING.docx

Letter to the Editor by Steve Thomas, Baptist Village Communities
April 6, 2016

Dear Editor,

The Oklahoma Standard. That phrase means neighbor helping neighbor, perseverance through adversity, enduring resolve and strength of  compassion.

The recent announcement from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority of a 25% cut in Medicaid provider rates beginning June 1st will have devastating consequences. It is imperative that we stay true to The Oklahoma Standard by refusing to accept such actions that we know will lead to catastrophic results for the most vulnerable citizens of our state. Surely, Oklahomans won’t tolerate the neglect of its children, disabled and frail elderly.

Baptist Village Communities (BVC) owns and operates three health centers with almost half of the residents depending upon Medicaid as their partial source of payment. BVC also serves approximately 750 clients in their homes with personal care, medical equipment and case management services through the ADvantage program. Absent appropriate funding, these folks cannot manage on their own. Most have significant health needs coupled with limited financial resources.

BVC is a not‐for‐profit aging services organization that has been serving Oklahomans since 1958. Even as a not‐for‐profit, we rely on a mutual  partnership with our state to provide ministry. Without this good faith partnership, it is impossible to provide quality services that our seniors most certainly deserve. BVC, and many others like us, already spend much more than we receive in the Medicaid program, but an additional 25% cut is implausible.

Besides the quality and access to care issues, the economic fallout is sure to follow. There will be loss of jobs which will greatly impact local  municipalities, especially in rural Oklahoma. And, this is not just about health centers and nursing homes; it also impacts other healthcare providers including hospitals, physicians and pharmacies.

The Oklahoma Standard. We are back to where we started. Are we, as Oklahomans, willing to accept that the least among us be left behind? I think not. It is up to us, as individual Oklahomans, to speak up and be the voice of the forgotten. Please call and reach out to your state legislators today and implore them to stay true to The Oklahoma Standard by refusing to accept the proposed Medicaid provider rate cuts.

Steve Thomas
Vice President of Operations
Baptist Village Communities

Fiscal Crisis Concerns for Rural Nursing Homes
http://newsok.com/with-looming-oklahoma-budget-crisis-rural-nursing-homes-and-hospitals-remain-concerned-about-futures/article/5492297?custom_click=rss

Corn Heritage Village – Forum with Senator Mike Schulz
https://www.facebook.com/weatherford.dailynews/videos/1150047555025768/?fref=nf 

 

Capitol Visitors Implore Lawmakers to Avoid Cuts

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advocacy4-3-smOn Wednesday, May 5, nearly 400 people showed up at the state capitol to plead with lawmakers to spare state agencies from double-digit budget cuts.  “This will have an impact on everyone” said Mary Brinkley, an organizer of Wednesday’s effortand Executive Director of OKAHSA. “No one in this state will be unaffected if these budget cuts go through.”   House and Senate budget officials asked agency heads to come up with plans to deal with budget cuts ranging from 7.5 to 12.5 percent.  Most state agencies have been cut nearly 15 percent since the start of this fiscal year.

Those attending were given information that could be used as an outline to talk with their legislators.  Wearing bright green T-shirts that said “Solutions for the Life of our State,” they fanned out throughout the state Capitol going to lawmakers’ offices.  Instead of cutting agencies, they suggested solutions to lawmakers, such as:  Eliminate tax credits or put a hold on them until the state’s economy rebounds,  Eliminate the deduction for state income taxes or phase it out until the state’s revenues improve, Consider sales taxes on soda, candy bars and tanning beds and other items that contribute to the poor health of state residents.

Advocacy: Budget Cuts

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Stand Up for Seniors: An Advocacy Forum 

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2010 Stand Up for Seniors Advocacy Forum
January 12, 2010 – Oklahoma City.

The forum highlighted the pressing issues facing the elderly due to the current economic crisis facing our state. Our voices represented the frail elderly Oklahomans who cannot express their concerns regarding funding for critical programs and services for seniors.

Presenters included:
Scott Meacham, State Treasurer:  provided a budget update and the current implications of the revenue shortfall.

stand_up2010David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute: outlined strategies to address the current economic crisis in the state and implications for services and programs that are essential for older Oklahomans.

A panel of legislators shared their position and vision for the future of aging services for Oklahomans. Included on the panel were: Kris Steele, Speaker Pro Tempore, House of Representatives; Scott Inman, House of Representatives; Clark Jolley, Assistant Floor Leader, State Senate; and Andrew Rice, State Senate.

Also included on a panel were candidates for Governor of Oklahoma: Lt. Governor Jari Askins, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and Senator Randy Brogdon.

Organizers noted that the original idea for the event came from members of the State Council on Aging. They hoped the Stand Up for Seniors forum will empower the aging network and others to become active, to advocate earnestly for the needs of seniors, and to make their voices heard around the state.  Legislators, advocates, members of the aging network, service providers, agencies, consumers, caregivers, and the general public participated in pledging support to address the critical needs of the elderly.

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2009 Stand Up for Seniors Advocacy Forum

stand-up2With the economic crisis so much in the news, the Oklahoma aging network fears that the economic downturn will adversely affect the elderly. Along with over 80 co-sponsors, the State Council on Aging, a statewide group established to champion the needs of and issues confronting older Oklahomans, hosted an event to garner support for issues of the elderly on January 8, 2009 at the Kerr McGee Auditorium, Meinders School of Business, Oklahoma City University.

The theme of the educational forum was Stand Up for Seniors. The forum highlighted the pressing issues facing the elderly from different perspectives.  The “Empty Chair” metaphor was used as an opening introduction to the issues, symbolizing the potential losses seniors may experience with the looming economic crisis. The empty chairs served as poignant reminders to participants of the enormity of those losses for older Oklahomans.

Leaders of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services presented short talks on the needs of the elderly related to their agencies and how they see any shortfalls affecting the elderly population.  Featured speakers for the event included Cassell Lawson, Director, Opportunities for stand-up1Living Life, Oklahoma Health Care Authority; Terri White, Commissioner, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Dr. Hank Hartsell, Deputy Commissioner, Oklahoma State Department of Health; and Howard Hendrick, Director, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Organizers note that the original idea for the event came from members of the State Council on Aging. They hope the Stand Up for Seniors forum will empower the aging network and others to become active, to advocate earnestly for the needs of seniors, and to make their voices heard around the state.  Legislators, advocates, members of the aging network, service providers, agencies, consumers, caregivers, and the general public participated in pledging support to address the critical needs of the elderly. Mary Brinkley, OKAHSA, served as coordinator for the event.

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Making Our Communities More Liveable for Older Oklahomans

OKAHSA is leading an advocacy initiative to ensure that programs and services for the elderly are adequately funded. Organizations across the state are encouraged to join this effort on behalf of the “Greatest Generation”.

“Every year when the legislature convenes, there is one population that is noticeably absent… I am speaking of the frail elderly population in Oklahoma. They have fought our wars, nursed our sick, taught in our schools, built our roads, and have contributed so much to our state. We needed them. Now they need us… They need us to advocate for adequate funding for programs and services such as nutrition programs, transportation, adult day services and quality nursing home care.”
— Mary Brinkley, Oklahoma Association of Homes and Services for the Aging Executive Director

OKAHSA’s request bill, SB 1622, was signed into law by Governor Brad Henry on May 11, 2004.  Full Text of SB 1622

“This measure proposes a new funding methodology that will reward nursing homes that place emphasis on the use of revenues for direct resident care.”
— Mary Brinkley, Oklahoma Association of Homes and Services for the Aging Executive Director Full Text of OKAHSA Press Release