Ohio Medicaid Recipients in Danger of Losing Home Health Services
Poor Reimbursement Rates Could Mean Loss of Important Services to Vulnerable Ohioans
While the DeWine Administration has proposed increases for Medicaid in the Ohio budget, vital home health care services have been left out of consideration for necessary budget increases. Despite testimony showing a clear need for rate increases, the Ohio House did not include home health rate increases that will ensure patients who are at home continue to receive home health services. It is a crucial time to get an increase in the Ohio Senate's version of the budget; otherwise many home health agencies are seriously considering dropping Medicaid patients because they can no longer cover gaps in cost.
Joe Russell, Executive Director of the Ohio Council for Home Care and Hospice (OCHCH), said "We're at the point where we need to seriously consider what the state will do if thousands of vulnerable Ohioans are left without the ability to stay home, and Medicaid spending explodes from the need to use most costly care to serve these individuals."
Craig Colton, CEO at Patriot Homecare, testified to the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, "I have great confidence that the compassionate people that have taken the time to participate in these proceedings will address this pending crisis, not only for the benefit of the Medicaid population in Ohio that depends on them, but for the continued solvency of the Medicaid program." Colton continued, "Without this action, our ability to serve the Medicaid population will continue to dwindle, a prospect that is heartbreaking."
Debra A. Studer, Regional Director at Interim HealthCare in Eastern Ohio, stated in her testimony to the State Senate, "The low rates have now created critical access issues for some patients and has left many people without the ability to get home care services. In fact, skilled home health rates are the same today as they were in 1998."
As Ohio's population grows more services are being utilized by individuals on Medicare, the federal program for the elderly that reimburses roughly three-times more than Ohio's Medicaid program. This rate disparity is making it increasingly more difficult for home agencies to admit Medicaid patients, especially when Medicaid is not reimbursing enough to even cover the costs of providing care. To address this crisis, OCHCH is asking the Ohio General Assembly to increase home health rates—including aide, nursing, and therapy services—by ten percent.
Concerned Ohioans are encouraged to reach out to their State Senator as soon as possible to include a 10% budget increase in HB 166 that will protect vulnerable patients who will lose essential home health care services if the necessary funds are not provided to Medicaid by the state.
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