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Seniors Can Wait Months For Home Health Care Because Of ...

Catholic Charities
Kaiser Health News
the Urban Institute
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Leading Age
Care & Comfort
the Peace Corps
Catholic Charities Maine
The American Rescue Plan
the American Rescue Plan
the Maine Department of Health and Human Services
the Health Workforce Research Center
Long-Term Care
the University of California-San Francisco
KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation

Phil Galewitz
Kathleen McAuliffe
John Gardner
Brianna Soukup
Kathleen McAuliffe
Louise Shackett
Katie Smith Sloan
Joe Biden
Betsy Sawyer-Manter
Robyn Stone
Michael Stair
Donald Harden
Paul Saucier
Joanne Spetz


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The New York Times
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"I should be getting the help that I need and am eligible for," says Shackett, who has not had an aide since late March.The Maine home-based care program, which helps Shackett and more than 800 others in the state, has a waitlist 925 people long; those applicants sometimes lack help for months or years, according to officials in Maine, which has the country's oldest population. Still, in the past decade, states including Maine have increased funding to groups providing Medicaid home and community services — anything from medical assistance to housekeeping help — because people prefer those services and they cost much less than a nursing home.The states also are funding home care programs like Maine's for those same services for people who don't qualify for Medicaid in hopes of preventing seniors from needing Medicaid coverage later.But elder care advocates say the demand for home care far outweighs supply.Bills in the Maine legislature would increase reimbursement rates for thousands of home care workers to ensure they are being paid more than the state's minimum wage.The state does not set worker pay, only reimbursement rates.It's not just low pay and lack of benefits that hobbles the hiring of workers, according to experts who study the issue. "We can't find the labor," says Donald Harden, a spokesperson for the organization.The federal government is giving states more dollars for home care — at least temporarily.The American Rescue Plan, approved by Congress in March, provides a 10 percentage point increase in federal Medicaid funding to states, or nearly $13 billion, for home and community-based services.The money, which must be spent by March 2024, can be used to provide personal protective equipment to home care workers, train workers or help states reduce waiting lists for people to receive services.For Maine, the bump in funding from the American Rescue Plan will provide a $75 million increase in funding. But Paul Saucier, aging and disability director at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, says the money will not make the waitlists disappear because it will not solve the problem of too few workers.Joanne Spetz, director of the Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care at the University of California-San Francisco, says throwing more money into home care will work only if the money is targeted for training, recruiting and retaining workers, as well as providing benefits and opportunities for career growth.

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