Over the past year, the Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice has been advocating for the state Department of Medicaid to make changes to its Electronic Visit Verification system. This month, OCHCH announced that those efforts have produced some results. A report summarized four areas:
We have posted the entire, unedited message to OCHCH members elsewhere in this week's issue. To deepen our understanding, we spoke with Joe Russell, Executive Director. A former lobbyist, Russell summarized our lengthy conversation with one piece of advice to his counterparts in other states:
"Get to know the people in your state's Medicaid office, starting with the ones designing your EVV plan. Engage early. Engage often. Make friends with the state people. Make sure they know you want to work collaboratively to achieve the best outcome for patients, providers, and their budget."
He added that he was appointed OCHCH Executive Director less than a year ago, after the planning process was already well along. "I don't like to be reacting after the fact and asking for changes," he told us. "I prefer to be helpful to the process from the beginning."
Along with his advice to colleagues, Russell recounted the policy message he had given Ohio Medicaid providers. We all have to work collaboratively with officers in the Ohio Department of Medicaid, even if we are not completely in agreement with what they are doing. Our fear is, if their plan does not work out well, we would be blamed for sabotaging it because they know we are not happy with what they are proposing."
To avoid the appearance of sabotage, he added, "We told ODM that we had some major concerns but wanted to make it work. Since then, our relationship has been good. They have listened to our proposals, even though they have not proposed changes of their own after hearing our concerns."
One of the positive things that came out of these discussions was a series of "EVV Summits," which are attended by OCHCH members and ODM officials. The first summit was held last December and, in Russell's words, was a big success. "Our members saw what ODM wanted and they saw what our members wanted. We brought up five points and, though their team did most of the speaking, they walked through each point and let the audience ask questions."
At the second summit, ODM director Barbara Sears attended. "What an eye-opener that was for her!" Russell said. "Those conversations have led to more and more support from ODM staff. Today, they meet monthly with our EVV stakeholder group." The whole premise of the summits, Russell added, is based on "if this doesn't work, it's not going to be because home health providers were not ready or did not have enough support to get ready."
The former lobbyist was quick to add the political dimension. "EVV is a federal mandate to be carried out by each state," he explained. "We didn't want to derail the intent of the rule because that would only have resulted in ODM being penalized. And we would still have to implement EVV."
Russell outlined for us the components of the Ohio EVV plan his members would like to see changed.
Joe Russell had a lot more to say when we ran out of time for this interview. He does, however, make the offer that his peers at other state associations are welcome to contact him. He will be happy to prepare them to work collaboratively with their own state Medicaid officers.
©2018 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org