HAN: Behind the Scenes

I’d like to take a moment and explain to everyone some of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that we do here at HAN. You all see the Advocacy Intensive, the videos and policy updates, and the emails keeping you informed. What you may not know, is that one of the major wheels that keeps our office turning is our Grassroots Database. I have the distinct pleasure of maintaining that database, and am currently elbows-deep in trying to update email addresses, mailing addresses, career changes, and other information that we need to run a successful grassroots advocacy organization.

This is what happens when you never clean your database....not really, but it is our irrational fear.
This is what happens when you never clean your database….not really, but it is our irrational fear.

Most of the data you see on our website is pulled from this database. This is how we email Congress, how we email you, how we figure out who is an active-advocate, and who is ignoring our emails. It is really the brain of the operation (sorry Tony). But with extensive use, this brain can get…cluttered. Part of it is because it has not been cleaned out in a very long time. Part of it is simple facts of life: people change jobs and email addresses and last names. It is a dirty, time-consuming, and rather boring job. But it is essential to the efficient functioning of our team.

Do you have a part of your job that is essential, but perhaps not the most exciting? Every job has those duties. Here at HAN, we take the month of August to try and focus on those jobs while Congress is back in the district. That way, when they come back to DC…we are waiting for them.

Concerned about the Hospice Final Rule? Learn from the experts!

I know everyone here is used to listening to Tony, Karen and (eek!) myself, but maybe you’d like to hear from some other voices for a change?

More likely, you might have some serious questions/concerns about the new changes CMS has undertaken in the FY2016 Final Rule. Well, fear not! Judi Lund Person, VP of Regulatory Compliance, and Carol Spence, VP of Quality & Research, will be presenting a Webinar on August 25, 2015 that will examine the FY 2016 Hospice Wage Index Final Rule and help you understand the many important provisions it contains.

The 90 minute program will air from 2:00pm-3:30pm EST on August 25, 2015. To register for the Webinar, please visit this registration page.

Both of these ladies are phenomenally well-versed in all things CMS, and I am sure this will be an incredibly informative presentation. A great one for an IDT/office meeting! Hope you can join us!


So what has HAN done for you lately?

One of the most frustrating things about politics and the legislative process is the stop/start/go/wait/yes/no nature of it. We were blowing up your inbox, your facebook, your twitter, having call-in campaigns and generally shouting from the rooftops in July, and now it’s all radio silence. What gives?

Well, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes here in DC. First and foremost, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted the final rule last Friday and it included a 3 month delay in the implementation of the new payment model for routine home care, which will now start on January 1, 2016. This is undeniably in part because of your advocacy!

Beginning on January 1, 2016, routine home care payments will change to the new two-tiered rate. The new service intensity add-on (SIA) payment will also begin on January 1. Members can view the more detailed Regulatory Alert on the NHPCO website.

The halls of Congress are empty during recess, but that does not mean HAN isn't working!
The halls of Congress are empty during recess, but that does’t mean HAN isn’t working!

We’re sure you have questions, and HAN is working closely with our Congressional champions to figure out some crucial next steps. Congress is back at home for the August in-district work period now, so it’s taking us a little longer to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. We hope to have a full explainer email out to you soon that gives an in-depth look at what’s next for Hospice Advocacy in the 2nd half of 2015. In the meantime, Jonathan Keyserling, our esteemed Executive Director, has taken the time to talk through where we are now and what to expect in the near future.

If you have specific questions, feel free to reach out to us directly. If you need talking points or advice for follow up on a Congressional site visit, we’re happy to have a call or email conversation with you. And make sure you are taking advance of the August Recess, and visiting/contacting your Members of Congress while they are in the district. They might be harder for us to track down, but they are right in your backyard! Help us out and make contact with them while they are in the district office.

Again, you’ll hear from us soon with a more detailed update. Until then, thanks for all you do, and have a great weekend!

Squeaky, Squeaky Wheels

Both Lauren and I have been combing through the conference feedback forms from the Advocacy Intensive and we’ve both had this weird bit of cognitive dissonance. Our conference evaluation form is fairly standard. It uses 1-5 scales to rate various parts of the event, but then it also provides room for comments below each section.

It’s been interesting seeing the feedback come in. I’m happy to report that what we’re seeing so far is that folks generally really liked the Advocacy Intensive and have felt like they made a difference. We’re very thankful for this feedback because above all we want to empower people to take part in the process. We want folks to feel like coming to Washington was worth their time and effort. Most of the ‘scores’ and comments are positive, and that really pumps us up!

But still…

We do get some comments on the things we can do better. Most are very constructive and helpful, and we will absolutely use them when we are planning #HAN16. We welcome all feedback and we really do want to make each event better than the one before. On the other hand, we also get comments that, well, maybe aren’t the nicest or constructive.

The HAN team takes comments like those with a grain of salt of course, and as I said our aggregated responses were overwhelmingly positive. Still, it got me to thinking. The negative comments we get pale in comparison to some of the vitriol that Members of Congress routinely face. If you’re on Facebook, try this out- search for your Members of Congress and look at the comments sections of some of their facebook posts. I bet you know what you’ll see there (ONCE YOU WEED OUT THE RESPONSES IN ALL CAPS!!!). Folks can be pretty passionate in those posts and comments, right?

Now before I go any further, please don’t mistake the point of this post to be that:

  1. We’re going to change everything about the Advocacy Intensive to accommodate the comments of a small section of the attendees or:
  2. You should post mean things to your Member of Congress’ website or facebook accounts.

FullSizeRenderInstead, think of it this way: what we listen to the most is the constructive feedback, and I can guarantee that that’s who your Members of Congress strive to listen to also. Imagine if they heard it from a large number of their constituents! There’s data from the Congressional Management Foundation that we’ve seen that says the number of articulate and polite comments it takes to get the attention of a Congressional Communications Staffer can be as low as 10. Think about that for a second- if you and 9 of your friends all took 5-10 minutes to reach out to your Congressmen, each in your own words, and explain how you felt about an issue, it’s conceivable you’d get on their radar! Maybe it’s better to think of yourself not as a squeaky (ALL CAPS) wheel, but rather as the dashboard light on your car- the one that says ‘check engine’. It’s helpful, it points out a problem, and gives you some indication of what the solution might be.

That may seem counterintuitive, that as few as just 10 passionate advocates can make a difference on an issue, but it’s the truth! Now, commenting on facebook and twitter are great, but there are better and longer lasting ways to make your voice heard- keep following our blog to stay up to speed on all the latest tips and tricks!

What is #HPM?

Every Wednesday night at 9pm EST, there is an online tweet-chat in the hospice and palliative medicine (hpm) community. There is a rotating moderator and topic, and people tweet in using #hpm. As most discussions go, there is typically a core of active participants, and I am sure several more people who just ‘lurk’ in the background. Last night’s topic was hospice and palliative overlap and the MCCM. Some of the concerns presented would be address by the Care Planning Act, so hopefully we continue to see momentum on that bill.


Karen and I were hanging out in #hpm chat last night, and I typically pop in most Wednesday evenings. It would be great to see more of you there! (Shout out to @TheGilb84, who I see there frequently) You may find that you enjoy the casual, friendly atmosphere with other people familiar with our industry.

Similarly, make sure to tune in to the debate tonight on twitter and facebook if you want to see how other people use social media for advocacy and policy. I am sure you will see MANY people doing it badly, but hopefully you can also pick out some people doing it well. Feel free to link to the good, the bad, and the ugly in the comments below!