House Approves Bernstine Bill to Help Seniors Stay in Their Homes

HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives Monday unanimously approved legislation, authored by Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence), which would make it easier for seniors to maintain their independence and receive care in their homes.

“A disparity in Pennsylvania law is limiting access to in-home care and actually forcing some seniors into nursing homes when home care would have been more appropriate, preferred and less expensive,” Bernstine said.

Currently, when an individual applies for Medicaid, he or she can be “presumed eligible” for nursing home services and receive those services immediately while their Medicaid application is being fully reviewed. However, if the individual wishes to receive in-home care, he or she must wait until the application is fully approved, which sometimes takes months.

This delay can force the individual into a nursing home when home care is the better, less costly option.

“Home care has been shown to promote more rapid recovery, greater mobility and an overall better quality of life. Not only does it benefit the person receiving care, but it saves tax dollars too,” Bernstine said.

House Bill 1829 would extend “presumptive eligibility” to those who meet the qualifications for Medicaid and wish to remain in their own homes instead of in a more costly and restrictive setting.

According to the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Pennsylvania saves an estimated $34,000 annually for every person who is served at home instead of in a long-term care facility.

“By correcting this disparity, we can help seniors applying for Medicaid receive the care they qualify for, in the setting of their choice and save taxpayers money,” Bernstine said.

House Bill 1829 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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