Alliance Testimony to Health IT Council

Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher’s testimony to the Health IT Council

The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts represents nearly 150 member agencies employing more than 19,000 workers who provide over 5 million home care visits each year.  The services they deliver to approximately 175,000 elderly, mentally ill and otherwise infirm Massachusetts residents should qualify these agencies as “meaningful users” of Electronic Health Records with Health Information Exchange connectivity.

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Alliance Fights Cut to Home Health Rates

Pat Kelleher’s testimony regarding the January 22 hearing in front of the Division of Health Care Finance & Policy on MassHealth’s cut to home health rates.

Despite a rate that barely covers average direct costs, the state is now asking that agencies absorb the expenses associated with a 20% rate cut on approximately 40% of visits.  It’s difficult for home health agencies to see equity in such a cut and freeze reflected across the long term care system.

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Testimony Opposing Cut to PERS

The Alliance’s testimony to DHCFP regarding a cut to the monthly rate for PERS equipment and services.

    To utilize a Personal Emergency Response System is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity for tens of thousands of seniors in Massachusetts, not to mention its great importance for their working or out of state children and grandchildren. Nobody can turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing of financial difficulties, bailouts, layoffs and budget cuts, but a 33 percent cut to a service used by so many is extraordinary even by today’s standards.

    Stimulus Letter to Gov. Patrick and State Officials

    Letter to Governor Patrick and other state officials regarding stimulus funding for home health.

    …it is troubling that once again, home health care agencies have been left off the list of essential providers to receive funds for rate relief. As you know, despite its cost-efficiency, the home health industry absorbed one of the most damaging MassHealth “9C” rate cuts last year in addition to an existing rate freeze. Additionally, home health care has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the fastest growing employment sectors. In light of these factors, it would appear that this money would more efficiently serve taxpayers and the health care system by including funds for the restoration of home health funding.

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    Kelleher Testimony on Telehealth Legislation

    Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher presented testimony before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, along with seven member agencies, including: Partners Home Care, Caritas Home Care, VNA of Boston, VNA of Middlesex-East, VNA of Cape Cod, Hallmark Home Health, and Brandon Woods Home Care. Philips Telehealth also joined the Alliance’s effort in support of the legislation and Senator Harriette Chandler, who submitted the bill, brought in VNA Care Network to demonstrate remote patient monitoring equipment for the committee.

    Telehealth provides an ideal answer to the questions of how to care for an aging population, deal with a health care workforce shortage, and lower ballooning health care costs in the midst of a recession. According to a report by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are heading towards retirement age and “self –care technologies and programs will be increasingly needed to meet the needs of this nation’s aging population – especially in light of a continuing health care labor shortage.” (Technology-Enabled Care at Home, Deloitte, 2008). To further illustrate that point, Johns Hopkins University reported that 90 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have one or more chronic diseases.

    Alliance’s Testimony on Health IT

    The Alliance submitted testimony to the Health IT Council as it deliberates the statewide implementation of electronic health records.

    On behalf of Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, I wish to add the voice of home health agencies to the dialogue regarding the implementation of health information technology in the Commonwealth.

    Home-based services promote independent living amongst seniors and other individuals in need of care, which help them to remain in their communities where they are most comfortable and familiar. In addition to other major health care providers, the importance of home health agencies and visiting nurse associations in the health care system cannot be overlooked.

    You may download the full testimony by clicking here.

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    Kelleher Testimony on Equal Choice Law

    Pat Kelleher’s testimony regarding the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs Oversight Hearing on the Equal Choice Law is available for download.

    The Equal Choice Law was passed with the intention of saving patients, families and MassHealth millions of dollars by limiting the amount of admissions into inpatient facilities.  With that theory in mind, it would seem that Equal Choice and home health go hand in hand. A 2007 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Blue Shield of California proved that a patient-centered management program (PCM) where home care was increased by 22 percent and hospice by 62 percent actually reduced hospital admissions by 38 percent, reduced hospital days by 36 percent, and reduced costs by more than $18,000 per patient. The article heralding this study is attached to my written testimony.

    Despite the goals of Equal Choice and the proven track record of home health, the industry has seen little that would indicate an intention – or even recognition – of the need to expand capacity in the community care area. In fact, if anything, we have seen the reverse.

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