Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut has suggested the state cut healthcare costs by allowing unlicensed home health aides to give patients in the Medicaid system their medication instead of requiring the task be performed by nurses. This change would allow more patients to remain in their home by receiving in-home health care rather than expensive nursing homes or hospitals.
The governor says this could save the state $28 million because of patients covered by Medicaid. If the state is able to save money this way, so can private individuals currently under care or planning for medical expenses later in life. "The cost of medication administration is a significant barrier to getting people out of nursing homes and keeping people out of nursing homes," an employee of the government said.
Aides are allowed more responsibilities in many other states, likely because home health aides generally cost about half as much as nurses. Plus, aides are often already working in the patient's home cooking, cleaning and assisting the patient with everyday tasks.
Aging residents of Connecticut probably want to remain in their home for many reasons, not just frugality. But this can only be accomplished with proper planning. Because it can be more expensive to be cared for at home, planning should begin as soon as possible. However, new legislation such as the one promoted by the governor could help ease the financial burden many people feel when thinking about the future.
With health care costs seemingly on a steady rise, moves such as allowing home health aides to perform more tasks will help many Connecticut residents in the short term. However, it remains important for people to take steps toward elder care planning to help ease the burdens of care late in life.
Source: WNPR, "Connecticut considers letting health aides give medicines to homebound," Jeff Cohen, March 13, 2012