PENNSYLVANIA-Medical and non-medical home care organizations have suffered from cuts in the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget. With a growing senior citizen population and reduction of state funding it became almost unaffordable for home care agencies to hire home health workers. A mutual effort among home care organizations is needed to find a solution for this statewide issue.
Why is there a Budget Decrease?
There was a six-month budget impasse in the state of Pennsylvania caused by Governor Tom Wolf’s rejection to accept the Republican-crafted budget. An impasse negatively affected nonprofit organizations statewide who were not able to plan for the next fiscal year without a budget.
In December 2014, calling the Republican legislative leaders budget “wrong for Pennsylvania,” Wolf vetoed $7 billion plan for the new fiscal year. This resulted in Pennsylvania accepting only a partial budget.
This partial budget provides a $11.91 billion fund to the Medicaid and Department of Human Services (DHS). Nearly half of DHS’s funding would go to Medical Assistance (MA) that provides health care services for seniors, children, and people with disabilities. By accepting a partial budget, Wolf still increased 2014-2015 DHS budget by 6.2%. However, with the growing number of mentally disabled citizens and seniors this budget will still not be adequate to supply the demand in home health care and non-medical care.
Senior Population Growth
Since 2010, Pennsylvania’s 65+ population has grown by 8.9 percent. In 2014, the senior population of Allegheny county reached 17.4%, or more than 2.1 million people. That number continues to grow and in 2020 may go over 20%. 65+ population growth causes an increase in demand for medical and non-medical home care services. Home care agencies get more business that they can’t afford due to inadequacy in state funding.
What’s the solution?
Gainey agrees that partial budget of 2015-2016 fiscal year will still NOT be adequate to meet the needs of Allegheny County in-home care providers. According to Gainey, these organizations should have a “year-long dialog” with the state government to “build a bridge” across the state and have the problem solved before the budget has been already accepted and it’s too late.
“We need to have these conversations earlier,” says Gainey. ”It can’t just be on the day of adequacy. That’s not commitment, that’s support. Commitment is saying that we are going to set up meetings four times a year, every other month and really begin to drill down the needs to be more prepared…The problem is the only time that we see the great outpour is when it’s budget season and everyone wants to make sure their money is right.”
Gainey states that if all the parties affected by DHS budget, including homecare organizations, were interacting with the state representatives all year long we wouldn’t have a budget impasse. To increase awareness of this issue please watch and share the WPHHA podcast or get in touch with Ed Gainey Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM (412) 665-5502.
Western Pennsylvania home Health Association is a non-profit organization, servicing clients throughout Western Pennsylvania. At WPHHA we have coined the term “mobile healthcare services” to meet your needs on your time. These include in-home nursing, non-medical homecare and rehabilitation services. Our main concern is to help you or your loved ones maintain the highest level of wellness and independence possible.