Home Health Care: 13,000 jobs in limbo

Home Health Care: 13,000 jobs in limbo

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) — They help care for people who cannot care for themselves but now, thousands of home health care aides said they need help saving their livelihoods.Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to end the state’s use of independent contractors who provide home health services. Some of those workers and the families they serve said the governor’s idea is a bad one.Angelica Halcomb is 23 years old going on life as a toddler at best. She functions at probably a year and a half. Angelica was born with brain damage. She has a variety of other neurological illnesses, and cannot speak.Her father, Scott Halcomb, said, “She’s basically in a wheelchair and requires 100 percent care, 24/7.”One of Angelica’s care givers is Shelly Schmit, an independent nurse who works directly for clients like the Halcombs. Rather than working for an agency.Schmit said, “She’s not just a number. She’s not one of many patients. She’s just one of a few and that means she’s going to always get better care from me than from someone who comes in today and may never come back to this home.” But Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to eliminate the independent service provider option. In his budget proposal, Kasich said going only through agencies would fight Medicaid fraud and abuse, saving taxpayer dollars and improving health care. To Schmit, those arguments are an insult, This is my livelihood. This is my nursing license. This is everything to me, so obviously I’m going to provide the best care for my patient.” Schmit said independent providers were actually less costly. Angelica’s father said there was something else, I have the control now and we’re able to bring quality nurses in to take care of our daughter.” Of course, Angelica is not aware of the state of Ohio’s budget. But there are 16,000 other in-home patients in Ohio, cared for by 13,000 independent providers. Big numbers, but it really comes down to one nurse and one patient at a time.The situation is a budget issue because government Medicaid dollars pay for home health care; independent or agency. Governor Kasich’s plan would stop new independent providers from joining the system as of July 2016 and cut all existing independents by July 2019. If problems for independent home health workers sound familiar, in 2014 there were thousands of them who received late paychecks after a switch in the state’s payment procedure. Now, of course, they might receive no paychecks.The state Legislature has final say on the governor’s budget proposal. There are Facebook groups of independent providers, as well as a petition drive urging the legislature to reject the governor’s plan.CLICK HERE for Ohio Independent NursesCLICK HERE for Ohio Consumer Voice for Integrated Care Follow Jeff Hirsh on Twitter @local12jeff and LIKE him on Facebook

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