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Hello PASCO family! Welcome to “Ask the CEO,” our monthly blog series that brings you closer to the “why” behind PASCO initiatives, policies, and offerings. As a company committed to transparency and community building, we strongly believe in fostering open communication with our PASCO family.

By providing you with insights into our thought processes, we aim to build a stronger bridge of understanding and collaboration. If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming blog, please do not hesitate to fill out the form below. We’d love to hear from you.

May 2024

 

Q: How is PASCO advocating for our families? (part 2)

A: Since my last update in April, our commitment to advocating for our families and the disability community as a whole has only grown. We’ve been diligently working across multiple fronts to champion initiatives that directly benefit our families, and we have seen some very promising and exciting progress!

As some of you may already know, I recently had the honor of becoming a member of Colorado’s Direct Workforce Stabilization Board. This April, we had our most recent hearing in Pueblo. The board, alongside approximately 30 caregivers who were able to join us in person and online, shared invaluable insights and ideas aimed at attracting more workers to consider caregiving as a career while also focusing on strategies to enhance retention and wellbeing within the industry. I was thrilled to see that PASCO truly stood out during this event, with caregivers expressing their gratitude for the support and care they’ve received from our team.

PASCO’s team was praised for assisting caregivers in getting started with services and clarifying program requirements. The need for resiliency training was mentioned, which allowed me to highlight our PASCO Resiliency Series that is taking place monthly throughout 2024.  These trainings are free to attendees, including backup caregiving support and employees receive a $50 bonus for attending.  We want to ensure our community knows that we are committed to making these resources accessible to all. After the hearing one caregiver came up to me and said, “Your culture is really different isn’t it?”  YES, it is! It was an amazing feeling being able to see The PASCO Promise in action through these stories that were shared and I could not be more proud of our team for being difference makers.

Looking ahead in September, I, along with fellow members of the Direct Workforce Stabilization Board, will be finalizing and submitting our recommendations to Governor Polis – a crucial step toward effecting meaningful change in our industry.

In addition to my work on the Direct Workforce Stabilization Board, PASCO was honored to welcome esteemed guests Angela Ramirez, the Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Lily Griego, the Region VIII Director of HHS, and Percy Devine, the Bi-Regional Administrator for the Office of Community Living this past month to our Lakewood office. Their visit during Care Week provided an invaluable opportunity to discuss federal initiatives aimed at increasing access to quality care and supporting caregivers. We engaged in constructive dialogue, highlighting the challenges faced by our community and emphasizing the urgent need for equitable wages and innovative solutions to address the diverse needs of the families we serve.

The visit served as a reaffirmation of the collective commitment to elevating the voices of caregivers and enhancing support systems at both the federal and local levels. With promising developments on the horizon, including President Biden’s executive order on increasing access to high-quality care and supporting caregivers, we remain steadfast in our dedication to advocating for expanded rights, resources and supports for our community. You can read his executive order here.

As we reflect on the past month’s accomplishments and look toward the future, one thing remains clear: Together, we have the power to make a difference for Colorado’s disability community and beyond. Thank you to our PASCO family.  Without your support we would not have the opportunities to create the change that we do today. We truly couldn’t do it without you.

 

Questions? Contact Us

April 2024

 

Q: How is PASCO advocating for our families? 

A: March was a powerful month for reflection in our community. 34 years ago this month, individuals with disabilities including several that are a part of the PASCO community, organized and participated in what became known as the “Capital Crawl”. Over 1000 people marched from the White House to the US Capitol to demand that Congress pass the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. Upon reaching their destination, approximately 60 demonstrators abandoned their wheelchairs and other assistive devices, choosing instead to crawl up the Capitol steps, symbolizing their determination and demand for equal rights.

As we honor the legacy of those who paved the way for progress, our call to advocacy remains stronger and as necessary as ever today. Despite Colorado being a leader in benefits and services available to individuals with disabilities, we’re not meeting the needs of our community. PASCO continues to work tirelessly to advocate for necessary changes and improvements across multiple state entities that affect the disability community and beyond.

 

HCPF Changes and Challenges

Our funding source, the Dept. of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF), faces challenges due to the PHE unwind, low staffing levels at case management agencies, and flawed system rollouts that have resulted in many community members losing benefits. PASCO has worked hard to be out in front of the PHE unwind for our families to ensure they were equipped with the knowledge, resources and planning necessary to complete redeterminations successfully. Even with these proactive efforts, ~10% of our community has still faced delays and disqualifications. PASCO has stepped in to advocate on behalf of our families where issues have arisen and have advanced over $2.5M in wages over 9 months to keep households stable when our funding source is not. We’ve been actively advocating at the federal and state levels, including with HCPF, Joint Budget Committee and CO Dept. of Labor and Employment, to ensure our legislators understand and address this crisis. Over the last two months we’ve seen recognition of the problem from HCPF and a change in messaging, but there is still a long way to go. As we navigate these changes, know that We’re With You. We have the scale, experience and connections to protect our families in these situations and to advocate on their behalf both individually and collectively.

 

Colorado Therapies Funding

Colorado’s funding for therapies is in a state of crisis. In 2023, PASCO joined Alliance, a not-for-profit, statewide association advocating on behalf of the IDD community. We recognized the need to amplify the voice of our families to ensure legislators understand the importance of these services and adequately fund them. In 2024, we’ve seen some important steps taken towards properly funding these programs from the state but more work is needed. Over the coming months and years, you will see PASCO doing more to ensure these services are available and accessible to our families.

 

Accessible CNA Testing for All

Did you know that CNA and QMAP testing are only available in English, yet nearly 20% of Colorado’s population speaks a language other than English at home? We know health outcomes are better when individuals have choice, but today a lack of language justice stands in the way of that right to choice. If your preferred caregiver speaks Spanish, CNA and DD services are not an option for you due to limits in testing and other processes. PASCO is working to bring equal access to these jobs. We’ve collaborated with Colorado legislators to draft a bill that will be discussed soon that, if approved, will require testing accommodations not only for individuals who speak a language other than English, but also for individuals with disabilities. If an individual wants a caregiver who doesn’t speak English and that person can provide safe care that meets healthcare standards, our testing procedures should not get in the way. Our testing procedures need to accommodate the diversity of Colorado to ensure individuals can access the care they want.

I sometimes get asked, “What makes PASCO different?” It’s a question that gets me really fired up because the way I see it, everything is different. At PASCO, our team members are part of the disability community which makes our work personal. We carry over 30 years of stories, experiences, heartbreak and joys with us that influence every single decision we make. We organize and advocate on behalf of our community to improve opportunities and health outcomes. We create greater support and connectivity. We’re a whole lot more than a home care agency. We’re PASCO. We were with our community in 1992 when we opened our doors and we’re there today. We’re With You.

 

Questions? Contact Us

February/March 2024

 

Q: Are there opportunities to learn new skills or receive additional training through PASCO? 

A: I’ve always loved learning. I love the challenge; the sense of accomplishment when I finish; the ah-ha moment when something I learned in a course shows up in the “real world.” And one of the things that I’ve truly fallen in love with about healthcare are the seemingly endless opportunities to learn and grow.

For those who love learning, it’s great to be at PASCO. At PASCO, direct care workers aren’t expected to be in one static job for the rest of their life. Here, we create opportunities for our employees to continue to grow and develop their skills within healthcare. Whether it’s to provide better care for your current client or to grow your personal expertise or credentials, PASCO goes beyond other home health and home care agencies to create FREE opportunities for those who love to learn. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming learning events:

  • CPR & First Aid: Initial AHA Certification
    • PASCO provides the opportunity for caregivers to receive free, AHA-approved CPR certification.
    • Next upcoming courses:
      • Lakewood – March 18th, 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM | Register Here
      • Colorado Springs (NEW!) – March 25th, 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM | Register Here
  • Journey to Adult Waivers – PASCO Transitions
    • We are excited to invite you to a virtual event full of useful information, resource sharing, and more. You will be joined by our PASCO team who will be bringing you information on important things to consider as your loved one with a disability approaches adulthood.
    • March 22nd, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM via Microsoft Teams | RSVP Here
  • Resiliency Series
    • Join speaker Emily Harvey for this monthly series that is designed to equip participants with the tools, mindset, and strategies needed to cultivate resilience in the face of challenges, setbacks, and change.
    • March 8th, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM | RSVP Here
  • Emergency Preparedness Training
    • FEMA is hosting an webinar that aims to support caregivers in their efforts to engage and educate their support networks effectively and protect their loved ones and care recipients during emergencies.
    • March 7th, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM | Register Here
  • PASCO Skills Lab
    • PASCO Skills Lab allows interested caregivers in learning new caregiving skills, practicing the skills you already have, or having the opportunity to ask a nurse questions.
  • CNA School
    • As a reminder, CNA school tuition is completely free for our caregivers who will be providing CNA services to their loved one.
    • To learn more about this program, please connect with our Support team

View Our Upcoming Events

January 2024

 

Q: How can I refer other families to PASCO? 

A: Hello, PASCO family!

Over the last few months several members of our community have reached out to refer a new caregiver to PASCO. Often it is someone they met at an event, playground or office that could benefit from the knowledge, advocacy and care we have at PASCO.

Did you know that as a PASCO employee, you can help families in need of services and earn some extra cash along the way? For every caregiver you refer to PASCO through our Caregiver Referral Form, we’ll pay you $100 as a thank you for spreading the word about us and our programs to those who could benefit.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we’re doing together and the value we’re creating for our community. This referral bonus is simply our heartfelt thank you for helping us share our story (and for those of you I’ve had the chance to meet, you’ll know I get really excited when given the chance to share our story).

If you have questions about our Caregiver Referral Program, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Support team at support@pascohh.com or by calling (303) 233-3122.

Warm regards,
Leslee

Submit a Referral Here

November 2023

 

Announcement!

Following in the footsteps of the many strong advocates that have come before me at PASCO, I’m excited to share that I’ve been selected by CDLE to serve as a member of Colorado’s Direct Care Workforce Stabilization Board and by my fellow board members to serve as Vice Chair of the board.

The Direct Care Workforce Stabilization Board arose out of the Direct Care Workforce Stabilization Board Act (SB 23-261) passed by Colorado legislators in 2023.  The goal of this board is to provide guidance to the Governor on the direct care industry and how we can elevate labor standards, empower workers through education and address societal injustices affecting both caregivers and consumers.

My journey at PASCO has been deeply rooted in my passion for enhancing the well-being of our families, caregivers and clients.  Through this board, I intend to share my knowledge of our industry and to help our families’ voices be heard.
I welcome your ideas and input.  Please share them via the link below, send me an email (leslee.torres@pascohh.com) or call me at 303-233-3122 x138. 

 

October 2023

Q: I’ve heard that agencies are putting caregivers on hold because their PAR is delayed or was wrongfully denied. Am I at risk of not being paid if this happens to me?

A: At PASCO, we pride ourselves on our commitment to prioritizing our families above all else. Some individuals utilizing HCBS waivers are facing incorrect denials or unnecessary holds on their PARs due to the overwhelming workload of case management agencies. These delays can lead to uncertainties and financial strains for our families.

We understand the anxiety that can arise when you’ve meticulously completed all the necessary paperwork, checked every box, and fulfilled all the requirements to confirm your loved one’s eligibility, and there is still a risk of not being paid due to these external issues. We stand by the principle that if you’ve done your due diligence, you should be getting paid promptly. That’s why we’ve taken proactive steps to alleviate these concerns and provide protections for our families.

To read about PASCO’s safeguards in place to ensure that families are covered during unprecedented times like these, please click the link below.

See How PASCO Puts Families First

September 2023

 

Q: What effects would the upcoming potential government shutdown have on my pay and the services I provide as a caregiver?

A: In the midst of uncertainty surrounding a potential government shutdown, it’s understandable for our families to be concerned about their income and ability to continue care through Medicaid. In the last week, I’ve received several questions about what a potential government shutdown may bring for PASCO families.

I’d like to assure that your loved one’s care and your compensation as caregivers are covered in the event of a short-term shutdown for various reasons: 

  1. Programs like Medicaid are considered “mandatory spending” which means that these services are required to remain open even during a shutdown.  This requirement reduces the risk of staffing shortages with these programs which can lead to delays and lapses in funding.
  2. The services that caregivers provide through PASCO are funded by the State of Colorado and our state budget.  While our state receives a significant portion of its Medicaid dollars from the federal CMS program, this division provides additional protections for Medicaid funds. However, since Medicaid is considered “mandatory spending”, these funds are protected at the federal level. This means that our funding is well protected at both the state and federal levels in a shutdown.
  3. At PASCO, we are well-prepared to navigate potential disruptions caused by emergencies such as a shutdown. Agencies providing Medicaid services are required to keep services active for their clients for three months, even if funding is not received through the state during that time.  This is why it’s critical to partner with a reputable agency like PASCO to provide services.

As new developments regarding the shutdown arise, we will communicate these changes with our families. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these changes, please do not hesitate to connect with our support team at support@pascohh.com or by calling (303) 233-3122.

August 2023

 

Q: How has PASCO managed the end of the Public Health Emergency and the start of Medicaid redeterminations? How are our families faring?

A: I’m excited to share that less than 1% of PASCO families have lost state plan benefits to date as a result of the PHE ending and we’re actively working with these families to get coverage reinstated while they continue to provide care to their loved ones through PASCO.  I’m incredibly proud of this. HCPF has stated they estimated 315,000 Colorado Medicaid Members would lose coverage through this process (~18% of Medicaid Members).  We are nowhere near that percentage, which I believe is a testament to the ethical billing standards we uphold, our knowledge of the Colorado Medicaid system, our proactive communication with families ensuring they were aware of what was happening and when responses were needed and our commitment to advocating for our families.

I understand that the end of the Public Health Emergency and the urgency of Medicaid renewals can seem stressful and overwhelming to navigate. I want to assure you that you’re in good hands with your PASCO team and that we’re with you every step of the way. We’ve been preparing for these changes starting long before they were announced to ensure we mitigated as much risk as possible of our clients receiving an unnecessary gap in coverage. Our overall goal is to allow you to continue focusing on the care you provide for your loved ones day in and day out. If you have any questions about how to best prepare for the redetermination process, please contact your PASCO service coordinator or nurse. We’re with you! 

July 2023

 

Q: PASCO made significant changes to its health insurance program this year. Why were these changes made and what can I do to find affordable coverage?

A: In prior years, PASCO contracted with Kaiser to provide health insurance to its employees and their loved ones. Like other insurance providers, Kaiser sets its price based on our organization’s insurance claims in the prior coverage period and the rising cost of medical and pharmaceutical services in our area.

Despite our best efforts, our health insurance plan – like plans across the country – continues to face significant challenges due to cost inflation and the impact of Affordable Care Act regulations which do not account for our unique business model (specifically what the employee premium contribution can be and which household members the plan is required to cover). Our plan also faces additional burden due to uncharacteristically high plan utilization, which has caused its costs to dramatically outpace national medical inflation over the past years.

We did everything we could to avoid having to make this decision, but ultimately the rate increases that Kaiser was pushing on us (double-digit increases the last two years in a row) coupled with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates and employee premium contribution limit decrease this year, made our current program unsustainable. We contacted other full insurers to provide offers and no other reputable insurer was willing to cover us.

Through significant effort, we did secure coverage though and were able to offer a plan once again. The objective of this plan is to lower our claims costs so we can hopefully have better options in the future. This new plan uses a few different tools to try to get there. First, our new plan does not have a network affiliation. It pays a multiple of what Medicaid would pay to the provider for any services rendered. It’s important for subscribers to verify with their provider in advance of the visit that they will accept this type of insurance to avoid balance billing. Secondly, while the cost of employee-only coverage went down, all other coverage options increased and spouses are no longer eligible for coverage.

At PASCO we believe deeply in Care for the Caregiver, and ultimately came to the conclusion that if we can help our caregivers evaluate all their options, we can help them find higher quality, more affordable care through other avenues including Connect for Health where they benefit from being pooled with the general Colorado population who have lower utilization. To this end, PASCO provided a Health Insurance Navigator free of charge to employees to support them in finding, understanding, and evaluating all options.

If you or a household member experience a qualifying event and would like to reevaluate your coverage options, please send a ticket to support@pascohh.com so our team can help connect you with our Health Insurance Navigator.

Questions? Contact our team today!

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