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Three Out of Four Pennsylvania Voters Support Increased State Funding for Home Healthcare Services
Date:3/24/2008

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A poll this month of 700 registered and active voters across Pennsylvania shows that three out of four surveyed supports an increase in the state Medicaid reimbursement to home healthcare providers from $77 to $100.

The Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA), representing some 300 home healthcare agencies and hospice organizations, said the survey results showed overwhelming support for state health care policy and funding changes necessary to help implement Gov. Ed Rendell's efforts to provide more alternatives to long-term usage of acute care hospital and nursing home facilities.

"Governor Rendell has been a strong advocate of quality care in the home setting, where most people would prefer to be," said Vicki Hoak, executive director of the homecare association. "The poll conducted in the first week of March shows that people agree that homecare is effective and preferred to service in an institutional setting and it is a more effective use of limited taxpayer dollars."

The PHA authorized the survey to determine the level of public support for its request of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to earmark some $10 million in this year's budget to increase the reimbursement per homecare visit from $77 to $100. The state has increased homecare reimbursement only once in the past 16 years. "The reality is that the typical homecare visit costs upwards of $118," Hoak said. "While a $100 reimbursement won't fully fund homecare services for those eligible for Medicaid in Pennsylvania, we realize that the Commonwealth can't fill the total gap in a single year.

"Also, to the degree that we are able to provide homecare services for someone who would otherwise by in an acute care hospital or nursing home, we are reducing the state's costs in those areas - saving money on a case-by-case basis."

Steve Richard, CEO of SUN Home Health Services, a homecare provider serving 14 rural Central Pennsylvania counties, noted that while his agency and other non-profits like it earmark a certain portion of their revenues to cover the cost of serving families without the ability to pay, his agency lost some $170,000 last year providing services to Medicaid patients. He said this "subsidy to the Commonwealth" hindered SUN's ability to provide services to other needy patients.

Survey question and demographic breakouts attached

Survey question:

Q17. Governor Rendell supports increased usage of home healthcare as a desirable alternative to extended hospitalization or nursing homes. Currently, the Medical Assistance program reimburses providers of this care at the rate of $77 per visit, while the true costs of these visits have risen to $120 per visit in recent years. Providers of this care have asked the state to increase this reimbursement to $100 per visit, for a total price tag of less than $10 million dollars out of the total $6.7 billion dollars spent on medical assistance this year. Do you support or oppose increasing the Medical Assistance reimbursement to providers of home health care from $77 to $100? (TEST INTENSITY)

1. Strongly support 359 51% Total Support: 75%

2. Somewhat support 165 24% Total Oppose: 18%

3. Strongly oppose 75 11%

4. Somewhat oppose 51 07%

5. Undecided 50 07%

Regional break-outs

Q. Do you support or oppose increasing the Medical Assistance reimbursement to providers of home health care services from $77 to $100?

NW SW NE SE

PA PA Allegheny Central SCentral PA PA Phila

Strongly support 60% 44% 48% 48% 44% 58% 58% 50%

Somewhat support 12% 24% 20% 27% 29% 14% 22% 34%

Strongly oppose 32% 11% 16% 12% 10% 13% 8% 12%

Somewhat oppose 9% 9% 11% 7% 8% 8% 5% 6%

Undecided 6% 11% 5% 6% 9% 8% 7% 6%

Gender

Q. Do you support or oppose increasing the Medical Assistance reimbursement to providers of home health care services from $77 to $100?

Men Women

Total support 73% 76%

Total oppose 19% 23%

Undecided 8% 6%

By age

Q. Do you support or oppose increasing the Medical Assistance reimbursement to providers of home health care services from $77 to $100?

18-29 30-44 45-59 60 + .

Total support 88% 75% 75% 72%

Total oppose 12% 19% 19% 19%

Undecided -- 7% 7% 8%

By race

Q. Do you support or oppose increasing the Medical Assistance reimbursement to providers of home health care services from $77 to $100?

Cauc. Af-Am Other

YES 75% 84% 77%

NO 18% 13% 17%

Undecided 7% 3% 6%


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Homecare Association
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