New Hampshire Home Care Providers Speak Out Against Budget Plan
Providers of home and community-based care in New Hampshire spoke out against a plan to use a $5.1 million surplus in the state’s Medicaid-waiver home care program budget to close deficits in other state programs.
Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services have both endorsed the plan, saying that the surplus reflects the fact that the Medicaid-waiver program, known as Choices for Independence (CFI), is healthy.
Home care providers, however, argued at a May 19 news conference in Concord that the opposite is true: CFI is broken and badly in need of repair.
“System failure is not a surplus,” Carolyn Virture of the New Hampshire Elder Rights Coalition and Heritage Case Management said at the press conference. “People go without services because there is no one to provide the care.”
Applicants are waiting months and months for eligibility determinations, applicants have gone without care, waiting for the services and supports needed to stabilize their lives. Unable to wait any longer, applicants instead enter nursing homes for care or, sadly, they die.
The Medicaid reimbursement rate for CFI is too low to raise wages for home care workers, making it difficult to recruit and retain quality employees, some press conference attendees said, according to a May 19 article in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Additionally, some attendees noted that New Hampshire nursing homes were allowed to keep the $3.9 million surplus they accrued in the last fiscal year. CFI, which is a much less expensive option than nursing home care and allows elders to remain in their homes and communities, should be treated similarly, they argued.
— by Matthew Ozga