Letter to the Editor

Home care is better option

Friday, May 7, 2010

For many of us, a nursing home may very well be the place we receive needed long-term care. Fortunately, home care services have expanded in scope and availability in recent years so that fewer of us will have to live out our lives in a nursing home. Shame on the state for doing anything that makes it harder to stay home.

Most of us do not qualify for Medicaid. For those Missourians who do, what is left of the home care services structure at the end of this General Assembly may not be sufficient to meet their needs. If home care is not available or if you are unable to get the type and amount of care you need to remain at home, a nursing home is often the only other option.

Medicaid pays approximately $40,000 a year for a person to live in a nursing home. Medicaid pays approximately $6,500 a year to keep that same person at home. Why would state government want to restrict a person's ability to remain at home when the cost for a nursing home bed is six times as much -- in taxpayer dollars.

Nursing homes are an essential part of the long-term care continuum, but being in a nursing home because your home-care options are limited by misdirected public policy is not right.

The governor and the legislature should look at the budget crisis as an opportunity to expand home care and restrict unnecessary placements into nursing homes.

MARY SCHANTZ, Executive Director, Missouri Alliance for Home Care, Jefferson City, Mo.