Advancing Adult Day Services on Capitol Hill

Lisa Hawkins, Jeff Wright and Valerya Balannik with Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes

Lisa Hawkins, Jeff Wright and Valerya Balannik with
Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes

About 30 adult day services supporters from 16 states convened in Washington, DC on April 15-17, 2013, for the National Adult Day Services Public Policy Conference. Attendees traveled from California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin to speak up for adult day services. About 50 legislative visits were pre-scheduled by NADSA staff for providers to meet with their elected officials or their legislative staff.

Conference attendees met colleagues and advocates from across the country on Monday evening at the Lincoln Restaurant in preparation for visits on the Hill on Tuesday. Jennifer Dexter, Vice-President of Government Relations for Easter Seals, briefed attendees on the climate of the Hill on Monday evening, and then presented tips for successful meetings on Tuesday morning before folks headed out for their respective meetings. DC offered a very defensive culture with a fiscal focus, so adult day services supporters looked for opportunities to encourage our business as a part of long term services and supports that are being discussed. Armed with leave-behind packets provided by NADSA, providers were encouraged to add information about their own centers to make their messages personal.

Chip Cromartie, Chair-Elect of NADSA and Executive Director of Adult Center for Enrichment (NC); Teresa Johnson, NADSA Managing Director; Lisa Peters-Beumer, NADSA Board member and Assistant Vice President of Adult and Senior Services for Easter Seals, Inc. in Chicago, IL.

Chip Cromartie, Chair-Elect of NADSA and Executive Director of Adult Center for Enrichment (NC); Teresa Johnson, NADSA Managing Director; Lisa Peters-Beumer, NADSA Board member and Assistant Vice President of Adult and Senior Services for Easter Seals, Inc. in Chicago, IL.

Attendees were well received overall. “I was impressed and surprised by how much time Congressman Posey spent with us—over 40 minutes,” said one attendee from Florida. “I was the one who closed it out. He loved to talk—guess that is why he is a politician!” Erin Orlowski from St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care in Milwaukee, WI, suggested reaching out to the office in the future. “They are great supporters of the mission of adult day care.  Each topic discussed was seen as a positive and was incorporated into their agendas.”

Discussion about reauthorization of the Older Americans Act frequently received feedback that the legislation was in a large bill with some other controversial issues. It seems that many of the “entitlement” bills have not been reauthorized and are up for review at some point. Other discussion points included protecting Medicaid, a primary payer of adult day services in some states and support for adult day services in the Medicare program. Representative Linda Sanchez plans to reintroduce the Medicare Adult Day Services Bill this session, and our members will be called to action once the Bill is reintroduced. It shouldn’t matter where a Medicare beneficiary receives nursing services, physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work services. It should matter that these services are quality, cost-effective services that the Medicare beneficiary can choose.

As one attendee said, “Our representatives in congress do not know all they need to know to make decisions.” We, the people, must invite our elected officials to see adult day services in action. This is key to getting action right now with legislators. Have your legislators been invited recently? It makes for a terrific public relations opportunity for your center to get media attention while also educating them about the valuable services you offer. When asked what others should know about the importance of getting involved in public policy, 18-year Florida veteran director Janet Steiner said, “If they care about the future of their business then advocacy has to be part of their program. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Unity and numbers make waves. Advocacy should be an expected part of providing a service that so little is known about.”

Plan now to attend the 2014 National Adult Day Services Public Policy Event in Spring 2014!

—Teresa D. Johnson, MBA, Managing Director

Go to the next article to find NADSA Board Chair Ned Morgens’ observations gained from Capitol Hill Day.