Sunday, March 4, 2008
The March 26 article “State, nursing homes at impasse over Medicaid” correctly notes that there is in fact a shortage of home care workers, but implies that the industry is not a viable alternative to nursing home care.
Home care is a cost-effective and often preferred alternative to institutional long-term care. It is also a key component to slowing New York’s spending on Medicaid. Today, home care provides an alternative to nursing home care, but there are unresolved issues that could severely limit access to home care services as its popularity increases.
The industry lacks necessary workforce recruitment and retention funding to fill the ranks of quality workers. The Governor and State Legislature have recognized this need, but the funding is in limbo pending Federal approval. Home care also faces challenges with adequate and timely reimbursement and for money-saving technology to deliver care.
Patients, family members and taxpayers can all benefit from greater usage of home care. Home care is up to the task, but if government officials want to depend on home care to a greater degree, issues limiting access must be addressed.
Phyllis A. Wang
The writer is president of the New York State Association of Health Care Providers, Inc., a statewide trade association representing the full spectrum of home and community-based providers.