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PA Homecare Association kicks off Annual Conference: Homecare advocates speak about the importance of re-balancing the healthcare system to ensure care to the citizens of the state

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 14 /PRNewswire/ -- About 100 health care professionals who still make house calls converged on the state Capitol today for the annual conference of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA).

While their overall focus was to persuade the General Assembly to increase state support for home healthcare services, they also set aside time for Atty. Gen. Tom Corbett to discuss the important role home health care providers can and do play in identifying and reporting elder abuse.

Corbett, the PHA keynote speaker, established the state's Elder Abuse Unit in 2006 and addressed the important role home health care plays in preventing elder abuse.

The agenda includes an address Friday by Governor Edward G. Rendell, a federal update by Val Halamandaris, president of the National Association for Home Care, and insights from Dr. Mike Magee, author of the best-selling book, "Home Centered Care."

Vicki Hoak, PHA executive director, said the three-day conference was designed to give home care professionals a look at current trends, future opportunities and insights into state and national issues facing the growing health care sector.

"While Wednesday morning is focused on home care professionals meeting with their local legislators on the Hill, the heart of the conference will be workshop sessions on trends and challenges in both home health care and hospice," Hoak said.

The Pennsylvania Homecare Association is seeking a $10 million increase in the state's 2008-09 budget allocation to address a variety of reimbursement issues. One goal is 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.

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.

Another key issue is under-spending on a health care program targeted senior citizens utilizing a Medicaid waiver.

Governor Rendell has made increased use of home care services a key part of his health care reform initiatives. He is expected Friday to focus on the work of the Chronic Care Management Commission established in 2007. Rendell is scheduled to speak at 11:00 Friday, May 16.

The conference is being held at the Hilton Harrisburg, 1 North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101 and will have speakers and events scheduled through Friday afternoon.

For a complete schedule of speakers and events, please visit

SOURCE Pennsylvania Homecare Association
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