Another Voice

This letter appeared in the January 23 edition of the Buffalo News 

Lou Michel’s recent article, Advocates call nursing homes a ‘failed’ business model highlights what many in the home care industry have long known. Home care is the preferred, cost effective, and often safer care setting for those in need of long-term care. Home care workers and their employers are the forgotten, severely under resourced and underrepresented, but ESSENTIAL component of the health care continuum. 

Home care workers sorely deserve recognition and support for their heroism. They are the heart and soul of the industry. Policy makers must ensure serious financial support, access to adequate PPE and readily accessible COVID vaccinations for the industry.

Providers across the health care continuum face multiple acute challenges. Home care is no different. However, some critical differences predate the pandemic. Home care faces strong headwinds, with decreased rates, increased costs, multiple redundant reporting requirements, contracting limits, strict regulation, and other detrimental state policies which all greatly impact critical access to home care services. 

It is long past due to invest in, bolster and plan for the future of home care in New York. To be direct – now is not the time to add more upheaval and uncertainty to the home care industry, as the state is on a course to do. Extensive state regulations and policy changes crush the industry by creating completely avoidable turmoil, chaos, uncertainty, gaps in care and barriers to service. 

The home care industry is continually asked to reinvent itself without the benefit of consultation by, or knowing the goals of, the State. It is troubling that no conclusive results from past policies have been released publicly or shared with the industry, yet new policies continue to be imposed that have great potential to harm the industry and reduce access to the very care the Advocates… article accurately portrays as crucial to New Yorkers.

One thing is clear: home care is the setting of choice for those needing services. COVID has shown this more acutely with residents in congregate care settings leaving to go home or wishing to do so, if only they had the appropriate resources to provide the support of the home care industry. Data from certain counties indicates that the COVID mortality rate for home care recipients is a small fraction of what it is for nursing homes, or even private residences, and less than half of what it is for assisted living facilities. Patients do better at home.

Rather than developing and implementing policies that create obstacles and restrict access to home care, state policymakers charting a course for the future of long-term care in New York must feature home care prominently as the crown jewel of such a system. 

Kathy Febraio – President/CEO, NYS Association of Health Care Providers – Representing the spectrum of home care providers in NYS
20 Corporate Woods Blvd.
Albany, NY