Advocates for frail elders and disabled adults, including many with Alzheimer's disease, say proposed cuts by the Patrick administration to a community-based health program will force many patients into nursing homes.
At issue is the administration's two-pronged proposal, which includes reducing reimbursement rates starting March 15 to 140 providers that care for elderly and disabled adults who are still living at home. The administration said the action would help to immediately address a multi-million dollar gap in the state's Medicaid budget and would save the state about $3.3 million a year.
But advocates, who plan to pack a public hearing on the proposal Thursday morning, say many of the programs are already barely making ends meet and further cuts would force some of them to immediately close.
The Patrick administration has also proposed cutting $55 million from the program in the new budget that starts July 1, a move advocates say would essentially eliminate the services for most of the 11,000 patients statewide who are enrolled.
"We believe that 20 percent of these people would go to nursing homes immediately, and the rest would probably be at home with even more expensive services," said Darcey Adams, president of the Massachusetts Adult Day Services Association, which represents most of the state's adult day programs.
Adult day health provides meals, activities, skilled nursing, and other health services to patients in a community setting for about eight hours a day.
"Adult day health programs are the best bang for the buck," said Paul Raia, vice president of clinical services for the Alzheimer's Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Raia said that in addition to helping provide meaningful activities for Alzheimer's patients, the adult day services provide a much-needed break to patients' family members who often are stressed from caring for their loved ones.
The public hearing on the proposed rate cuts are Thursday, Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. at the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, 2 Boylston Street, 5th Floor in Boston.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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