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REPORT: Home Care Professionals Traveled 8 Billion Miles in ’13

December 21, 2015

Home care aides, nurses, and therapists made more than 718 million visits to U.S. consumers’ homes in 2013, driving nearly 8 billion combined miles in the process, a report from the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare found.

The report (pdf) uses data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a third-party analysis of Medicaid spending, and the foundation’s own survey data to estimate both the number of trips home care professionals made in each state as well as the mileage they accrued while doing so.

Home care workers in Maine had by far the longest average distance driven per trip, at 35.2 miles, nearly 20 miles longer than the next-longest average distance (Virginia, 16.71 miles).The national average was just below 11 miles per trip.

Policy Recommendations

The report’s findings were released at a December 15 press conference held by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), a trade organization representing the home care industry and an affiliate of the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare.

In a statement, NAHC president Val Halamandaris praised home care workers — “angels of home care,” as he described them — for traveling “astonishing” distances to provide the necessary services and supports for elders and people with disabilities.

At the NAHC press conference, a panel made several policy recommendations based on the report data, including further research on technologies such as driverless cars and telehealth equipment to ease the burden on home care professionals, as well as greater federal support for the recruitment and retention of home care workers.

Paid Travel Time

While its report calls attention to the billions of miles traveled by home care aides, NAHC — along with other organizations representing the home care industry — has consistently opposed a new federal rule change that would require home care employers to compensate aides for their time spent traveling between clients.

The rule change, which also extends basic wage protections to home care workers, went into effect in October 2015. In November, NAHC and other industry groups petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn it.

Paid travel time, which is afforded to nearly other occupation, would create incentives for employers to consider travel distances when scheduling workers, and would ensure that home care aides are paid for all hours worked.

— by Matthew Ozga

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