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GOP, Democrats Unite on Home Care

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The Republicans and Democrats both talk about the need to strengthen the U.S. home care system in their 2012 campaign platforms.

Val Halamandaris, the president of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NACH), Washington, is welcoming the platform references to home care.

“This is a non-partisan issue,” Halamandaris says in a statement.

The Democrats refer to home care in a section on helping Americans with disabilities.

Part of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) calls for “expanding access to Medicaid, and helping Medicaid to support home-community-based services to keep people in their communities,” 

State Medicaid programs, which are funded by both the states and the federal government, provide home care, NAHC officials say.

The Republicans included a more extensive discussion of home care issues and other long-term care (LTC) issues in their platform. 

“Medicaid, as the dominant payer in the health market in regards to long-term care, births, and individuals with mental illness, is the next frontier of welfare reform,” the Republicans say.

The government should overhaul Medicaid by getting away from micro-managing state Medicaid decisions and instead simply giving each state a Medicaid “block grant” that the state can manage, the Republicans say.

“There should be alternatives to hospitalization for chronic health problems,” the Republicans say. “Patients could be rewarded for participating in disease prevention activities. Excessive mandates on coverage should be eliminated. Patients with long-term care needs might fare better in a separately designed program.”

The Republicans note in their platform that monthly costs for aged and disabled Medicaid enrollees can be extremely high.

In a reformed system, “states would have flexibility to improve the quality of care and to avoid the inappropriate institutional placing of patients who prefer to be cared for at home,” the Republicans say.

The Republicans also talk about home care in a section on consumer choice in health care.

“Because seniors overwhelmingly desire to age at home, we will make home care a priority in public policy,” the Republicans say. “We will champion the right of individual choice in senior care. We will aggressively implement programs to protect against elder abuse, and we will work to ensure that quality care is provided across the care continuum from home to nursing home to hospice.”

NAHC says the new Republican platform devotes much more attention to home care than other recent Republican platforms have.

“This is only the second time that the Republican Party platform has specifically endorsed the expansion of home care,” the group says. “The last time was 1988, when George H.W. Bush ran and was elected over Democratic Governor Michael Dukakis.”