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Dear Editor:

It’s that time of year again — budget season in Harrisburg. Lawmakers across the state are crunching numbers to ensure the state can pay for vital programs. At home-based care agencies like MedStaffers, we go through the same process, crunching numbers to ensure we can cover costs to provide care and services to seniors and people with disabilities in their homes, rather than in a nursing home. However, several factors are making this more and more difficult.

Current Medicaid reimbursement rates are inadequate, so homecare agencies can only afford to pay direct care workers $10 per hour. These caregivers could easily find higher pay in the retail and food service industries, yet they choose to provide care at home because they know how important they are to the consumers they serve.

In addition to low reimbursement rates, in the last six months alone there have been increases in fees for state police background checks and child abuse clearances, which we are required to get for employees. With these unfunded mandates, the cost for my agency to hire just one worker is $43 higher than it was last year. Yet there was no increase in the Medicaid rate to offset the cost.

Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 and most want to stay home as they age. It is critically important that lawmakers in Harrisburg recognize the important role homecare plays in keeping people healthy, independent, and with their families.

This is their opportunity to provide a lifeline to the millions of seniors and people with disabilities who rely on our services by increasing Medicaid homecare rates.

Krista Krebs

Med Staffers, LLC, Carlisle

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