Fair reimbursement should be priority

Critical in-home care for more than 50,000 seniors, adults with disabilities and children with complex medical conditions is in danger because of inadequate Medicaid reimbursement rates that severely limit the ability of providers like Home Nursing Agency to provide livable wages and other employee benefits.

I recently visited the state Capitol with other homecare providers and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association to advocate for fair reimbursement rates, and I hope our message was heard loud and clear.

Without rate increases for personal assistance services and pediatric shift nursing in next year’s state budget, Pennsylvania could face a potential collapse of its home and community-based services programs.

Homecare agencies that provide personal assistance services have not received a significant rate increase in 10 years.

Here in Altoona, our rates are at the rock-bottom of a payment range recommended by an outside consultant to the state.

At the other end of the life spectrum, the current reimbursement rate for pediatric private duty shift nursing is $40 per hour, which does not cover the actual costs to provide this highly-specialized care.

Our agency’s Pediatric Home Connection nurses are specially trained for each medically-fragile child’s unique needs: technology-dependence (mechanical ventilation, tracheotomy, feeding tube), respiratory disorders, neurological disorders and countless other diagnoses.

We are the link between the child’s caregivers, healthcare professionals, insurance company, school, etc., to ensure the highest quality of care.

At a time like this when our entire healthcare delivery system is being redesigned with a focus on quality and cost containment – including Pennsylvania’s decision to implement the federal Balancing Incentive Program to serve more people in the community rather than in institutions – we must invest in a strong, consumer-focused system.

There is truly no place like home, surrounded by friends and family. I urge the legislature to hear our voices on behalf of the people of all ages served by homecare providers in Pennsylvania.

Wendi Nagle, Director

Pediatric Home Connection

Home Nursing Agency