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Home Healthcare Reimbursement Freeze is Barrier to Commonwealth Goal of Advancing Alternative Care
Date:2/11/2008

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A freeze on the state's reimbursement rate for home health care for the fifth straight year is raising the barrier to Gov. Ed Rendell's desire to encourage alternatives to hospital and nursing home care, the head of the PA Homecare Association (PHA) said today.

The Commonwealth has increased the payment for home health care Medicaid recipients just once in the past 16 years. The current Medicaid reimbursement rate is $77, while the actual average cost per home visit is $118 -- a $41 loss every time a nurse provides care to a patient.

The Pennsylvania Homecare Association is seeking a $10 million increase in the state's 2008-09 budget allocation to increase the Medicaid reimbursement to $100 per visit for skilled services. The increase will help offset the cost of nursing care, rising gasoline prices, and workers' compensation premiums for home health agencies. Last year alone, Pennsylvania home health agencies traveled more than 210 million miles and spent an additional $6.7 million in 2007 to help cover the rising gasoline costs.

"A raise in the reimbursement rate will help us bring in more nurses, and also provide more people with the comfort of being treated in their own home," said Vicki Hoak, Pennsylvania Homecare Association executive director. "People who use home health care have a lower readmission rate to the hospital, and it costs less to provide home health care than to have a person remain in an inpatient facility."

Medicaid provides health care for low-income people under the age of 60. Nearly two million people are covered by Medicaid in Pennsylvania, but only about 10,000 of those receive at-home health care, she said.

"Offering more people home health care, is a desirable way to shift state and federal dollars away from higher cost health care solutions like emergency rooms and in-patient care," she said. "Homecare is far more cost-effective than the altern
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Homecare Association
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