The word is clear from the Rell budget proposal -- screw the seniors. As a nurse, I am very interested in the health care proposals, and right now there are too many moving parts to really make much sense of things.
But let's start the discussion with some information about how seniors get health care. Medicare pays for hospitalization and for nursing home care -- but the nursing home is only covered for as long as the person is making daily progress / improvement. Home care -- nursing, therapy, aides to help with personal care -- are only covered by Medicare when the person is homebound (meaning their condition makes it too difficult for them to leave their home to access services) and for intermittent care that has some expectation of improvement so that the care will end at some point.
Medicare does not pay for nursing home care for folks who are not able to care for themselves at home and need to live in the nursing home. Medicaid, the state program for the poor, will pay for this residential care for seniors who spend down their assets or who don't have any assets to begin with.
It costs about $211/day to keep a person in a nursing home, or about $75,00o/year. In 2006, the most recent year for which data is available, 68% of CT's long-term care expenditures went to institutional care for 49% of the people served. The other 51% percent of poor seniors were helped at home, with 32% of expenditures. That means we can keep people in their homes for half the cost of putting them in nursing homes.
So what does Gov. Rell want to do? Reduce the funding of this home care program. These poor seniors are not going away -- and if she pulls the funding for home care, the state will be on the hook for care that costs twice as much in nursing homes.
Can someone explain to me how this makes sense?