The Massachusetts state legislature has approved an increase in funding for those eligible for Medicaid. (In Massachusetts, often referred to as “MassHealth”.) The following news item was made public last week.

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Thousands of seniors across the state of Massachusetts are struggling to make ends meet and when they require any type of assistance due to their age, health issues, or any other problems that arise, the prospect of home health care may not be practical. That’s because the income eligibility in the state has kept an estimated 9,000 seniors from being able to receive state government assistance to pay for this level of care.

As the state legislature moves to add funding to the state’s Medicaid program, voting unanimously, 39-0 in favor of an amendment that adds $6.2 million for in home care as it changes the eligibility requirements. By lowering the income eligibility threshold, that allows more seniors to have access to this level of vital services within the comfort of their home.

There have been numerous seniors throughout the state who would have benefited from some type of support within the comfort of their home, either due to age, health emergencies, recovering from some ailment, surgery, or other situation at home, but couldn’t afford the care and their income was too high, over the current threshold.

There has been no reported word from the Senators who supported the legislation about where the funds will come from to help pay for this increase in spending. There also was no specific information regarding the exact nature of the change for eligibility requirements.

There also was no mention about whether the increased in spending will go to private caregivers or agencies that operate across the state. It is also not noted whether this increase in spending will provide the financial support some home care agencies may need in order to compensate for the significant federal cuts to the Medicaid program for in-home care. Those cuts (totaling 14 percent by 2017) have many within the industry believing it could lead to less available services to the aging population that need them as more agencies close.

The program that will expand with these funds are designed to assist seniors over 60 and provide day care, personal care, laundry service, medication dispensing, transportation, in home meals, grocery shopping services, and more.

This amendment is part of the state’s 2016 $38.1 billion budget.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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