Be aware and respond to your congressman! This could be your Mother or Grandmother!
Much of the attention surrounding home health care providers in the United States involves men and women in more suburban or urban regions, those living in rural portions of the country have an added challenge: extra costs.
These extra costs are often associated with travel time for the caregivers. The distance between two clients, for example, is often far greater (physically) in rural communities than in major cities. That requires more travel time for the home care aide or visiting nurse and, therefore, more cost.
Up until last year, Medicare was supplementing some of this extra cost for rural home care clients, but that benefit expired at the end of 2017 and Congress has yet to act on re-stating this policy.
According to The Hill, in the blog Congress: Act now to protect rural seniors’ access to home health care, written by Keith Myers:
“For nearly 20 years, Medicare has recognized that providing care in non-urban areas carries higher costs because of travel and staffing expenses. To address the issue, since 2000, Congress has funded the “rural safeguard” – a 3 percent additional payment to providers to account for these higher costs. While the rural safeguard has been renewed at least five times over the past 17 years, Congress has yet to pass the “Medicare extenders” – leaving rural patients and their providers uncertain about the future.”
For rural patients, access to home care options is also generally diminished compared to those living in major metropolitan regions. It’s a basic supply and demand issue and when there are fewer prospective clients in rural regions, per capita, there’s going to be fewer home care options available.
This can also mean a home care provider or agency may not be located within an hour’s drive to an aging client, for example. While some agencies in Southern California, for example, have ceased operating in remote regions due to cost, those men and women in need still require support.
The ‘rural safeguard’ as it’s been noted by some, helps to ensure those people who prefer to remain at home, even as they deal with health issues or mobility challenges, provides a financial assistance not available to or needed by those living in larger population centers.
The Hill and other advocates call out for Congress to restate this Medicare policy that will help rural men and women -elderly and disabled- still have access and afford home care services when it’s needed most.
Article posted on HomeCareDaily.com
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