Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Crisis in Medicaid Home Care

(This information was copied from info provided to me by David Sneed, Executive Director AAA of SW Arkansas, Inc and corresponds with an article in the September 2007 Aging Arkansas Magazine)

The Crisis in Medicaid Home Care

The eight Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Arkansas Department of Health Serve 14,514 Medicaid Home Care clients per year and employ 4,827 home care aides.

The AAAs and the other large home care provider, the Arkansas Department of Health, cannot hire enough home care aides to meet the current demand for services.

With the aging of baby boomers and new federal and state initiatives, the need in the future will become even greater. Unless the wages for home care workers are increased to be competitive with other jobs, the already critical shortage will become even worse.

Adequate compensation, recruitment and retention of home care aides are nationwide problems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of home care aides is projected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through the year 2014. An additional 41% of home care aides will be needed over the next decade, making it the tenth fastest growing occupation.

The average cost per person per year in home care is $7,097. According to the DHHS annual report, the average cost per person per year fro nursing home care is approximately $45,000.

Since 1999, the annual cost per nursing home recipient has doubled. During the same time period, the home care rate has increased by only 11%.

In fact, the reimbursement rate for home care has only been increased one time in the past 11 years! Nursing home rates receive an annual adjustment because their reimbursement rate methodology is tied to costs.

A 21% increase in Medicaid home care rate, from $13.84 an hour to $16.76 per hour is needed to remedy the current crisis and contend with upcoming cost increases – including two upcoming increases in the federal minimum wage. The total cost to the state woud be $4 million a year in matching funds.

When surveyed in January 2006, Missouri’s personal care rate was $18.64 per hour and Texas paid $15.49.

When home care clients cannot hire or retain workers, they are forced into nursing homes for care at three times the cost to the state.

We need to act now to remedy this crisis. Older Arkansans need our help to have a home care choice in the future.

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