As we have seen, there has been a growing trend in community-based healthcare, which offers an alternative to the strictures of nursing home care. Through community-based care, patients can receive in-home visits or live-in aides to ensure that they receive the proper care, but have the freedom of being at home. This is also the case for hospital patients who, when released, can receive follow-up care at home to reduce the likelihood of having to be readmitted to the hospital with a relapse or more complications (such community-based care has been a staple of the Medicare expansion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).
With the restrictions of nursing home life, and the unfortunate incidents of abuse and neglect that can lead to illness, injury and even death, community-based has become a more attractive option for those who would be right for it. And Medicare funding and other insurance has expanded to cover the costs of such care for many in whole or in part. Illinois’ Community Care program provides visits for the elderly and infirmed to help them bathe, prepare food for them, and help them with otherwise routine chores that they cannot do or struggle to do on their own as a result of age or disability.
Illinois Budget Problems
As we have also covered recently, Illinois faces a budget shortfall, and Governor Bruce Rauner and the legislature have spent months deadlocked in talks on how to best arrange the next fiscal year’s budget. Unfortunately, Rauner has put forth proposals that would cut certain healthcare funding, including for the elderly and for those who rely on nursing homes and even community-based care.
Governor Rauner recently proposed a plan that would restrict the number of eligible patients who can quality for in-home visits on the state’s dime. This would of course adversely affect seniors as well as the disabled, who if denied funding for in-home visits, would have to find other ways to pay for it themselves, or may have to turn back to nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Eligibility for the state-funded Community Care program is based on the calculation of a numeric score that takes into account multiple criteria that is supposed to measure the degree to which an individual is able to live on their own. While eligibility was previously capped at those with a score of 37, the governor would like to reduce the ceiling to a 29, which would more than likely eliminate certain elderly and disabled people,
Reverting to Nursing Homes
As reported in the news, the program for in-home care costs the state (and thus taxpayers) $396 per month per person on average. If the eligibility score is raised and patients are forced to turn back to nursing homes for care, state funding for that, such as through Medicare or Medicaid, would average at a whopping $2,900 per month per person, which is obviously far more expensive than the Community Care program. This would cost far more for the state, which has left some scratching their heads as to why the state would limit the in-home care program.
As the administration and those in the legislature grapple over the proposed budget, there still remains the distinct possibility that it will be balanced, or at least reduced, all on the backs of the elderly and disabled.
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