Who is going to care?
Sep 16, 2012 | 2083 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

The frailest elderly people in New Jersey, more than 25,000 statewide, depend on the help of the personal care assistant (PCA) Program. Thanks to the work of the caring well-trained Certified Home Health Aides, many poor seniors are able to continue living at home. With minimal incomes, and serious health problems, without this Program they would have few alternatives and would likely need to move into expensive, taxpayer subsidized nursing home.

Unfortunately, recent policy changes by Horizon Healthcare of New Jersey put these seniors at risk. Currently Horizon reimburses the groups who provide vital home care services. Horizon, in October, is cutting this reimbursement by 10 percent. To put the reduction into context, this rate is below one set by the State of New Jersey in 1990, 22 years ago. Because of this reduction agencies will no longer be able to participate in this network. Causing many frail and elderly clients lack of access to and a change in continuity of care. Hard working Certified Home Health Aides will see their already meager wages and benefits reduced and eventually loss of jobs.

Horizon Healthcare of New Jersey has stated that the use of PCA’s “has been significantly higher than anticipated” when they voluntarily agreed to participate in New Jersey’s managed Medicaid system. Frankly health care management is their business. If they are unable to successfully manage the PCA Program, if they made faulty business assumptions, why should New Jersey’s poor elderly residents pay the price?

New Jersey’s older citizens prefer living at home to institutionalized care. Adequate and capable home care services cost substantially less than nursing home care. Horizon Healthcare of New Jersey’s actions will destroy home care in New Jersey.

These new, devastating reimbursement policies are due to take effect in a matter of weeks. Call your legislators and tell them that this is the most hurtful thing Horizon can do. That this is going to destroy PCA care in New Jersey. Ask them to imagine the devastation this will cause to the elderly and Certified Home Health Aides. Ask them who is going to care for the elderly when we can no longer participate in this network.

John Buck
Executive Director of Visiting Homemaker Services of Hudson County

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