Home Health Industry to Get Out the Vote

By Matt DoBias, POLITICO

Home health agencies in more than a dozen states will be asked to take part in a get-out-the-vote effort that could give the sector more political clout while allowing thousands of seniors to participate in the November elections.

Under the initiative, backed by the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare and the Council of State Home Care Associations, caregivers could assist patients and their families in registering to vote and help them request absentee ballots if needed.

Council Chairwoman Marcia Tetterton said the effort focuses on homebound patients who otherwise cannot make it to their local polling places or who have recently relocated.

“It’s so important that we do this for our patients,” she said. “It’s just an extension of the care.”

The initiative, called Bring the Vote Home, includes a website with state-specific information on voter registration. Organizers plan to include information on candidates and where they stand on issues important to the health care sector.

Caregivers are prohibited from telling patients how to vote, and their training will focus on steering them to the right forms — not the actual ballots.

The initial rollout targets 15 states, including Florida, Texas, Virginia and a handful of others that are in play in the November elections.

The home care sector does not have the political influence of other health care interests, such as the physician and hospital lobbies. And many believe that has contributed to a series of cuts that have reduced Medicare payments by billions of dollars.

On one level, the campaign could change that dynamic. Voter registration tends to be low for both home health aides and the patients they treat.

But Tetterton said that’s not the driving goal.

“I’ve been very clear to my members that this is not a political issue — this is about yet another benefit for home care patients.”

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