'Choices For Care' Features Alternatives To Nursing
October 23, 2006
BURLINGTON, VERMONT--Monday's Wall Street Journal featured an article about Vermont's "Choices for Care" program, which allows most seniors and people with disabilities that receive Medicaid to use their benefits for in-home supports rather than nursing homes if they wish.
Medicaid is a healthcare program funded by both the federal government and state governments. Under most state Medicaid systems, being housed in a nursing home is considered an entitlement while in-home care is not.
What Vermont has done is turn in-home care into an entitlement, using that combination of federal and state money to pay caregivers, usually family members.
The program makes financial sense, say advocates, pointing to figures from 2002 that showed the average daily cost of a nursing home was $122 compared to just $80 for in-home care.
The program also makes sense for Medicaid recipients because many can continue to have the kind of quality of life they prefer.
"We are never going to build another nursing home," said Patrick Flood, commissioner of Vermont's Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. "It is an outdated model."
According to the article, Vermont's program is being used as a model that other states and the federal government are watching and copying. It notes that the long-term care bias that has favored nursing homes and other institutions is slowly shifting toward more in-home care alternatives.
The program is opposed by the well-financed nursing home industry.
"Seniors in Vermont are finding they can go home again" (Wall Street Journal via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)