Home Care Cuts – There’s More Than Meets the Eye
By: Phyllis A. Wang
Crafting a sound State budget in the midst of today’s current economic troubles is not a task to be envied. Governor Paterson and the State Legislature are facing an enormous challenge that could mean the elimination or reduction of funding for many valuable programs; however, not all cuts will result in net savings to the State.
Home care prevents and delays the delivery of care in higher cost institutional settings, yet the Governor has proposed over $150 million in new home care cuts and additional taxes. These cuts limit access to home care services by forcing agencies to confront difficult decisions about whether they must accept fewer patients, eliminate programs, and reduce direct care workforce in the face of declining reimbursement and rising costs. This results in the elderly, disabled, and chronically-ill utilizing costly emergency department, hospital, and nursing facility care, costing the State more money than initially saved.
A 2009 Health Affairs reports shows that states that invested more in home care experienced a 15.3% decrease in nursing home spending, while states that invested less encountered 3.4% growth in nursing home expenses. The report concluded that “home and community-based services programs may be one instance in which offering people greater choice also reduces cost.”
Despite mounting evidence that greater investment in home and community-based care is financially prudent, New York home care programs continue to be on the receiving end of relentless cuts, taxes, and unfunded government mandates that have little to do with providing care to New York’s most vulnerable. If Executive Budget cuts are enacted, home care programs will have been subject to nearly half-a-billion dollars in cuts since 2008 in addition to higher government mandated expenses.
The broad societal benefits of home care are unmistakable. Home and Community-based programs are more than a line in the budget – they are a lifeline to the community for thousands of New Yorkers and deliver the dignity that goes hand-in-hand with being able to receive care in the home.
Every day, thousands of elderly, disabled, sick and chronically-ill wake up in their own bedrooms and enjoy the security of their own home. Most of us take this for granted, but there is a renewed appreciation when it is threatened by the prospect of institutional placement.
If you want to show your support for home and community-based care programs, please visit www.homecareinfo.org and click the “Home Care Heroes” link to sign a petition opposing the cuts, tell your home care story, and learn more about the many people who positively contribute to home care on a daily basis.