Although the House budget process has yet to officially conclude, state representatives voted on items related to Health and Human Services, Public Health and Elder Affairs with barely any home care-related initiatives approved.
The traditionally conservative House budget process saw just over $12 million in additional money for all health care-related initiatives in general. The Home Care Alliance was itself asking for $8.9 million for home health aides, $10 million for homemaker wages and benefits – in conjunction with the Home Care Aide Council – and supported a number of amendments that were either low-cost or had no cost associated.
Beginning with the positive, an amendment creating a publicly-available home care workforce registry was denied. The Home Care Alliance was opposed to allowing the public access to the personal information of home care workers proposed in this amendment, including full legal name, date of birth, home address and gender of these workers.
Also, $200,000 was reinstated for Nursing and Allied Health Workforce Development that has funded improved access to education and training for direct care workers as well as nurses. One such example of a program funded through this item was the Home Health Nurse Residency Program that is run by VNA of Boston/VNA Care Network.
In the elder services category, $750,000 was provided to “meals on wheels” and the House approved a study of expanding income eligibility standards for home care services contracted through Aging Service Access Points.
Meanwhile, the House denied a commission to study oversight options for home health and private-pay home care, a raise for both home health aides and homemakers, a study of home health rates from MassHealth, and a boost in funding for pediatric palliative care.
The budget discussion and focus will turn to the Senate and the Alliance will be sending advocacy alerts to inform members and advocates about how they can help advance important policy priorities.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.