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March Newsletter #2: The Early Bloom of the District's Cherry Blossom Trees and the Delay of the Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

March 22, 2024

Neighbors,  

The District's cherry blossom trees are in full bloom and officially ushered in the beginning of spring. I hope you have had the chance to view them along the Tidal Basin or in your neighborhoods. Just as the early bloom of the cherry blossoms has surprised us, so has the delay of the Fiscal Year 2025 budget. By now, you may have already heard that the Council did not receive the Mayor’s proposed FY25 budget on Wednesday, March 20, as planned. Instead, we will be receiving the proposed FY25 budget on Wednesday, April 3. We will update our hearing schedule accordingly and push out that information as soon as possible.

While there are few legislative updates this week, I would like to highlight the Health Occupations Revision General Amendment Act of 2024, also referred to as the HORA. The HORA is a law that has been on the books for decades and governs the licensure, scopes of work, and Licensing Boards for a wide array of health professions in the District. This marks the first general update to this part of DC law since 2009. The 2024 Act has been carefully revised by the Committee on Health to modernize healthcare practice in our city. As the Chairperson of the Committee on Health, I am proud of the work my team and I have put forth to make this an impactful document. There’s more on this farther down in the newsletter.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who attended any of my three March Madness community office hours in Wards 5, 7, and 3. Getting direct insight from our residents regarding their issues of interest has been invaluable and I appreciate every single person I had the opportunity to talk to.

In Service,  

 

Christina Henderson

Councilmember At-Large

Chairperson, Committee on Health  

ChristinaHendersonDC.com

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Key Legislative Updates

Health Committee Marks Up HORA, and Two Nominees

This Thursday, March 21, the Committee on Health completed its markup on the Health Occupations Revision General Amendment Act of 2024 (HORA). The HORA adds clarity to numerous professional scopes of work in the healthcare field and restructures the Health Professional Licensing Boards to relieve administrative pressures and processes. This is a technical and multi-faceted piece of legislation, and here are highlights of a few changes we are particularly excited about:  

  • Expands access to high-quality telehealth by creating the first-ever guidelines for telehealth services provided by licensed health professionals in the District;
  • Addresses critical shortages in the long-term care workforce and encourage more young people to enter healthcare professions by allowing 16- and 17-year olds to become certified as nursing assistive personnel;
  • Increases access to life-saving vaccines and child immunizations by allowing pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to administer those immunizations;
  • Decreases application processing times for health professionals by streamlining the administration of Health Professional Licensing Boards;
  • Increases the workforce for non-clinical case management by expanding opportunities for individuals with social work degrees; and  
  • Increases safety for minors who choose to get tattoos or ear-piercing with parental consent.  

The Committee also approved two nominees, Blair Zervos to the Board of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. Patrick Canavan to the Board of Psychology. Mr. Zervos is a Ward 6 resident and longtime business owner in DC. Dr. Canavan received his Doctor of Psychology from University of Illinois, and is the Vice President of Consulting Services at IdeaCrew, Inc.

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Board Activity

On March 21, Councilmember Henderson, chair of the Transportation Planning Board (TPB), chaired a board work session on Visualize2050. TPB is accepting public comment through March 30 on roadway and transit projects proposed for the next couple decades.

To learn more and comment, visit http://visualize2050.org. TPB, which is part of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, conducts the federally mandated transportation planning process for the region and ensures the flow of federal transportation funds that area jurisdictions receive.

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Health Committee Performance Oversight

On March 13, the Committee on Health held a hearing on the Direct Care Worker Amendment Act of 2023 and Dr. Patrick Canavan’s nomination to the Board of Psychology. The Direct Care Worker Amendment Act addresses workforce challenges in long-term care, skilled nursing, and home health settings by streamlining licensure and certification for Home Health Aides (HHAs) and Certified Nurse Aids (CNAs) into a single credential (Direct Care Worker), establishing a new minimum wage at 120% of the District’s living wage, easing age restrictions for workers, permitting cross-state practice, and enhancing training programs.

Public witnesses highlighted the critical role of direct care workers and the consequences of workforce shortages, while long-term care administrators emphasized the need for improved working conditions and career pathways. The Committee also shared testimony from patients who benefit from the care of direct care workers and would not typically be able to testify by allowing individuals to submit pre-recorded video testimony. Their perspectives added to the rich conversation about this bill and the future of long-term care. Government witnesses testified on efforts to ensure fair payments and address workforce challenges, underscoring the importance of safety standards and policy solutions for the nursing profession.

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Christina in the Community

Read Aloud at AppleTree

On March 11, Councilmember Henderson spent some time with one of Apple Tree’s Pre-K3 classes at the LEARN DC campus at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling. She read aloud from one of her favorites, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin.

Cedar Hill Hospital Site

Later that day (March 11), Councilmember Henderson visited the Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center  site and surveyed the new construction. Her visit consisted of walking the grounds,  learning about future services the hospital will offer to the community, and meeting the new CEO and COO of the hospital who has been hired by UHS.  

March Madness, Cleveland Park Library  

On March 13, Councilmember Henderson continued her “March Madness” community hours at Cleveland Park Library. Residents brought up issues such as meeting credentialing requirements for the early childhood educator Pay Equity Fund, makerspaces, staffing our schools appropriately with health professionals, and more.  

Washington DC Alumnae Delta Chapter Panel on Trafficking

On March 16, Councilmember Henderson attended the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Washington DC Alumnae Chapter’s panel on trafficking and missing black girls and women. She was joined by the founders of the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. The panel covered the Ebony Alert, legislation that has been put it place to curtail missing black girls and women, and what panel participants thought would be effective going into the future.  

March Madness, Highland Grill and Cafe

On March 18, Councilmember Henderson held her final March Madness community hours at the Southeast location of Highland Grill and Café. Councilmember Henderson discussed illegal dumping, OSSE’s oversight of the Pay Equity Fund, DC’s thriving history, and the needs of residents who need long-term care services.

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In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News

DC Braces for Funding Crisis as the Downtown Area Struggles Financially, 3/15/2024, Sean Salai for the Washington Times

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Constituent Service Corner

National Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the 1912 gift of cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC. The festival is from now until April 14, 2024 and includes events full of entertainment, art, culture, food, and more. Learn more, here.  

Information on Services  

  • DPW Helping Hand Neighborhood Cleanup: Residents can apply to coordinate a Helping Hand Neighborhood Clean Up. The program supplies toolkits and trash bags to those who apply. Applications are open now and can be viewed, here.  
  • Get Free Tax Prep: Free tax preparation for seniors is now available at eight DC Public libraries until April 15. Assistance is by appointment only. View the locations, here.  

Know Your Rights When Making Purchases Through SNAP

SNAP Retailers Cannot:

  • Charge a transaction fee to consumers paying with a SNAP card;
  • Set a minimum transaction amount for qualified SNAP purchases;
  • Require a minimum SNAP card balance in order to make a qualified purchase;
  • Require SNAP users to make a SNAP card balance inquiry before making a purchase.

If you know of SNAP retailers in the District that are not following the law, please report it to the DC Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Mediation Program by:

  • Calling OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828;
  • Emailing protection@dc.gov; or
  • Submitting a consumer complaint online here.
  • Medicaid Renewal, Don’t Wait to Update: All DC residents with health coverage through Medicaid, Alliance, or the Immigrant Children’s Program must renew their coverage. Please visit the District Direct website to update your address, phone number, and/or email so that the Department of Healthcare Finance (DHCF) knows where to send your Medicaid renewal letter. If you require assistance, please call the Public Benefits Center at 202-727-5355.

Covid Tests  

  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests: DC Public Libraries have at-home tests available for pickup! For a full list of library locations with test kits available, click here.
  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests Continue: The federal government will continue to distribute free COVID-19 tests directly to homes. This ensures that free COVID-19 tests are available to marginalized and uninsured communities. Order up to four COVID-19 at-home tests per household here.

Prevention Services

  • DC Prevention Centers provide education on drugs and substance abuse, prevention strategy training for youth, families, schools and communities, prevention material distribution, and tobacco use prevention programs. For a map of prevention centers in each ward, click here.
  • Hillcrest Children and Family Center (915 Rhode Island Avenue NW) is a participant in the DC Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Expansion Program (ASTEP). For neighbors in need of intensive out-patient group, individual and family services, assessments, and basic education activities to delay the onset of experimentation with drugs and alcohol, you can click here to make an appointment or call at 202-232-2300.

Misc.

  • Have a constituent service need related to the Health Committee or any of the other agencies in DC Government? Want Councilmember Henderson to come to your community event or meeting? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Constituent Services Director Ana Berrios-Vazquez during regular business hours (9:00am - 5:30pm) at 202-724-8105, or ABerriosVazquez@dccouncil.gov.  

 

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