Florida Home Care Industry Announces Support for Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid ReformThe HCAF Board of Directors voted at a meeting earlier this month to support expanding Medicaid up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as called for by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

HCAF joins the Florida Hospital Association in calling for the state legislature to ensure that Floridians living just above the poverty line, and childless adults living below the poverty line have access to quality health care.

In an op-ed released to Florida newspapers and lawmakers, the industry stresses that it can be part of the solution to help reduce state spending by caring for Medicaid recipients in their homes as opposed to more expensive institutions.

The op-ed:

Expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do

During the upcoming Florida legislative session, lawmakers are tasked with addressing a critically important issue — the expansion of Medicaid for families living just above the poverty line, and childless adults living below the poverty line. As the trade group representing Florida’s more than 2,200 home care agencies, the Home Care Association of Florida supports this expansion and encourages lawmakers to take swift action to ensure that all Floridians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, but gave states the option to forgo expanding Medicaid up to 133% of the federal poverty level (about $30,000 for a family of four). To encourage state participation, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of new enrollees for three years, and then 90 percent after 2020. As most people now know, the Affordable Care Act requires Americans to have health insurance — whether it’s through an employer, a state health insurance exchange or Medicaid — and those without insurance will be forced to pay a penalty.

State officials have said the cost of expansion — estimated to be $3 billion over a decade to cover nearly one million more Floridians — is unaffordable. The home care industry, which provides care for 150,000 Floridians per day, can be part of the solution to help reduce state spending. According to a June 2009 report by the AARP Public Policy Institute, “on average, the Medicaid program can provide [home and community-based services] to three people for the cost of serving one person in a nursing home.” This is because care can be more tailored to the needs of patients, people living at home often need less than the 24-hour care and the expense of their room and board is not included in the cost of care. Furthermore, home care can reduce costly hospitalizations for the chronically ill uninsured by providing care management in the comfort of the patient’s home. From Pensacola to Key West, Florida home care agencies are prepared to provide cost-effective, high-quality care to this expanded Medicaid population to keep costs low and quality high, and ensure that more expensive institutional care is the option of last resort.

Looking to the bottom line, expanding access to health care for the poorest Floridians is not only the right thing to do, but the only viable option to address basic health care for those who need it most.

Terri Santangelo is President of the Home Care Association of Florida. Learn more at www.homecarefla.org.

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