Letter to the Editor: Home-care industry mobilizing voters to push for better policies

September 7th, 2016 11:23 am

It is critically important for people, particularly decision makers in Washington and Harrisburg, to recognize how home-care services address the needs of our seniors and people with disabilities, by enabling them to receive care – whether it is medical, personal or end-of-life care – in the comfort of their own homes.

That is why Guardian Home & Community Services Inc. is joining with the Pennsylvania Homecare Association and home-care agencies across the country to participate in “Bring the Vote Home,” a national initiative designed to help seniors and people with disabilities register to vote or apply for absentee ballots.

“Bring the Vote Home” will enable us to speak up during this political campaign season and tell lawmakers what the home-care community supports, such as efforts to reduce hospitalizations and to increase funding for home and community-based services and chronic-care management. More important, we can emphasize what we don’t like, such as cuts and inadequate reimbursement rates that limit access to Medicaid in-home care, and co-pays for Medicare home health.

Pennsylvania’s home-care community brings care and services into the homes of more than 575,000 seniors and people with disabilities – a number that is growing each year as people live longer. Home care is a lifeline, providing everything from medical care to assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing and grooming. And now, home care will provide a voice to these patients and consumers, many of whom have a lot to say!

As part of “Bring the Vote Home,” monthly public opinion polls are being conducted of registered voters age 65 and older. These polls measure senior sentiment on key political and policy issues. According to recent polling data, almost six in 10 seniors say they are more likely to support a candidate who opposes cuts to home health. The same number say they oppose co-payments on home health.

Home care has the ability to play a tremendous role in reducing care spending by providing for people’s needs at a fraction of the cost of institutional settings, such as nursing homes, which can cost more than three times the price of receiving care in one’s home.

On behalf of the millions of our nation’s elderly who are thriving thanks to home care, I hope our lawmakers will safeguard these vital services as they make important decisions in Washington and Harrisburg.

Speaking for the many patients we serve in their homes, I strongly urge our lawmakers to hear our voices and consider the unique value home care provides to beneficiaries – as well as the extensive savings it allows for the Medicare and Medicaid programs. I also urge them to support the home-care population and the highly trained professional care-giving teams like ours that are dedicated to treating our nation’s seniors in the security of their own homes.

Stephanie Miller

Registered nurse

Guardian Home & Community Services Inc.