March 27, 2013

Hope seen in state budget for home-health care

PLATTSBURGH — As New York legislators close in on Monday’s budget deadline, there is a ray of hope for home-health-care providers such as North Country Home Services. 

It was feared that 2 percent across-the-board Medicaid-payment reductions would continue through 2015.

“It looks like it has only been pushed to March of 2014,” said Gina Pounds, registered nurse and office manager for the Plattsburgh-based Clinton County office of North Country Home Services.

“The cuts will continue through 2014 but will end there, which is good news. I think our letter writing, our signature campaign, hopefully, got some points across in our efforts. We have some very, very caring home-care workers. They love the job they do. We are a vital employer and important link to these people staying in their own homes. They are frail, elderly, and they need to be cared for in some fashion. If not at home, it would be a nursing home.”

North Country Home Services is “dedicated to supplying services to clients enabling them to remain as independent as possible, at home, when undergoing stress and/or hardship due to illness, disability, injury or limitations due to age,” according to its mission statement.

About 365 home-health aides help clients remain in their homes in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.

In Clinton County, 101 aides perform 3,200 hours per week of authorized home care.

“In an effort to target our legislators, we did a letter-writing campaign,” Pounds said. “Our home-health aides wrote letters. They signed petitions. We got 71 signatures on a petition that went to (Sen.) Betty Little, (Assemblywoman) Janet Duprey, Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo and Assemblyman (Daniel) Stec.”

Several years ago, Cuomo instituted a Medicaid Redesign Team made up of physicians, hospitals, health-care providers and agencies to look at ways the state could be more efficient with Medicaid dollars and save money.

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