As an alternative to a nursing home, many choose to have home-based health care. This can include structural alterations to the home and having a home health aid stop in to check on the elderly patient. Funding for this alternative is typically covered under Medicaid, but that may change. Kaiser Health News reports that this benefit may be the first cut if congress votes to cut Medicaid funding to states.
Jim McIlroy depends on such a program to allow him to live at home. He’s one of 2 million elderly or disabled Americans who count on the federal-state program’s support of home-based services.
Congressional Republicans are pushing to reduce Medicaid costs, cutting federal funding to individual states.
While states can choose whether or not to pay for home-based health care, paying for a nursing home is a required benefit. While care in a nursing home is more expensive, if Congress votes to cut funding, voluntary programs like home-based care may be the first programs cut.
Though not a required part of Medicaid, home services do represent a large share of its budget. Long-term care expenses comprised a third of Medicaid’s budget nationwide. More than half of that budget went to home-based care. The rest went to nursing homes.
Advocates argue that home-based services can contribute greatly to overall health and well-being. Medicaid home services usually include a visiting nurse or nurse practitioner or an aide to help with things like dressing, light housekeeping, and travel to doctor’s appointments.
The program may also pay for modifications to the home to meet the patient’s needs. These renovations may include support bars in bathrooms, wider door frames to accommodate wheelchairs, and in some cases a chair lift to help patients reach the second floor of their homes.
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