We’ve all been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. While some have lost their jobs, others have been separated from loved ones. Many people are still filled with anxiety, and even though widespread vaccination is on the horizon, many of us continue to feel the effects of the virus and face challenges every day. Homecare workers are no exception to this; they’re dedicated to providing life-sustaining care to those who are still able to live at home but who need extra help doing daily tasks. Since many people who require homecare assistance are vulnerable individuals (elderly, disabled), homecare workers’ jobs have become even more difficult during this pandemic. As these essential employees work hard to keep both themselves and their patients healthy, they’re now turning to government leaders and voicing their concerns: they need COVID-19 relief and assistance, and they need it soon.
The homecare industry hasn’t received any COVID relief yet
Despite previous COVID relief efforts put forth by the government and the ongoing talks of another relief package coming soon, the homecare industry has yet to receive any dedicated funding from officials. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) is now urging Congress to understand the importance of proper funding for homecare services, which allows the elderly and disabled to continue living in their own homes while receiving assisted care. The group emphasizes that the next package, set to be distributed this month, must include direct funding for homecare services. NAHC notes that funding is crucial, because homecare services are necessary every day in order to provide life-sustaining care to those who require it, even as many homecare companies are short-staffed due to illnesses, budget cuts, etc. Without the proper funding for homecare programs, patients would be forced to move out of their homes and into nursing homes and other community living environments—where the risk of contracting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 has been high throughout the pandemic.
Funding is crucial as state budgets thin
States are facing budget crises as a result of the ongoing pandemic and have started to make cuts to Medicaid programs to stretch their finances further. Specifically, states are cutting optional services like homecare. This is a dangerous move in general, but it’s especially harmful as more and more Americans become uninsured. The government must allocate dedicated funding to homecare services to ensure that many citizens don’t end up in assisted living environments. The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program is set to expire this month, putting even more stress on the homecare industry. The MFP program provides money to those who are able to and looking to relocate from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities back into the community. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the MFP program saved states an average of $22,080 in the first year per older adult participant, $21,396 for people with physical disabilities, and $48,156 for people with intellectual disabilities. Unfortunately, many states have stopped helping with these transitions and a handful have cut ties completely with the program while waiting for guaranteed long-term funding. As HomeCare Magazine mentions, more than 40% of COVID19 infections to date are in institutions, so the MFP program is more critical now than ever.
Homecare is an essential part of healthcare
It’s easy for anyone to see the importance of hospitals, doctors offices, and specialty care facilities. What everyone may not realize is that homecare is an essential part of the healthcare industry, too. Homecare allows many men and women to maintain their autonomy and continue living life as they’d like to—in their personal homes. Although many disabled and elderly people need assisted care and help doing some of their daily tasks, they aren’t interested in institutions like nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Without the proper funding, many states will consider cutting homecare services, leaving these individuals with no choice but to move into an assisted-living situation. It’s time for our government leaders to recognize the importance of funding homecare services across the nation. As a vital part of our nation’s healthcare industry, appropriate funding will allow homecare programs to help those who need them live a happy life wherever they want to be.