November is Home Care Month in New York

As a nurse, I know how important it is for patients to be able to stay at home and live more comfortably. I’ve participated in home care visits in the past, and it’s truly remarkable to see firsthand what high-tech, skilled nursing care can do to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. That’s why I passed a resolution proclaiming this month as Home Care Month in New York.

Home care services provide compassionate health care and deliver high-quality services in crucial times of community and personal need. Disabled, elderly and chronically ill patients want to live independently in their own homes and be with their families – and home care services allow that, maintaining both patient dignity and comfort. Home care agencies should be adequately funded at both the state and federal level – especially in rural areas where fuel and travel costs make home care more expensive.

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice estimates that over 50 percent of home health care agencies in New York are losing money under current Medicare reimbursement rates – an alarming statistic that will grow to over 80 percent over the next five years if funding remains flat, according to the association. These agencies are already struggling to stay afloat financially, so something must be done to ensure these caregivers continue their critical role in the health care delivery system.

Home care is a growing, less expensive alternative to hospitalization, nursing homes and other institution-based forms of health care for acute and chronic illnesses, providing care to millions of Americans each year. Without home care providers, the overall quality of health care would decline and the cost of health care would increase. We must support these dedicated home care professionals – everyday heroes that include home care nurses, therapists and home aides. We need to ensure that home health care and hospice remain viable options for Medicare patients and their families.

For more information about home care services for loved ones, or if you have any other questions, call my district office at 794-5807.