Pennsylvania seniors will soon have less access to post-hospitalization home health care and may have to get nursing home care instead after the state’s Department of Public Welfare ended a program meant to speed up the hospital-to-home transition.
Despite the new State Plan on Aging’s top priority of making it easier for older adults to return home following a hospital discharge rather than enduring an unwanted nursing home stay, the Community Choice program was discontinued in early July.
Community Choice started as a pilot program in those three southwestern counties about eight years ago and spread to 12 counties around Pennsylvania since then. It fast-tracks arrangement of government-subsidized home assistance for frail elderly individuals who are hospital patients, so that upon hospital discharge they aren’t forced into nursing homes to receive care.
The expedited access to home services such as personal care aide has saved the commonwealth a large amount by avoiding more expensive nursing home reimbursements, Ms. Grenfell said.
“You can’t wait two months for in-home support if you’re leaving the hospital,” she said. “You’ve got to have that immediately.”
The [State Plan on Aging] submitted four years ago included a goal that the Community Choice program be expanded to all 67 counties by 2011, which did not occur. The new plan, being prepared for submission in August, is silent on Community Choice and contains few specifics on aging-related initiatives envisioned by the Corbett administration.
A Department of Welfare spokeswoman told the Post-Gazette that the future of the program is unknown, but that area agencies on aging will still have the chance to get state assistance for consumers “at imminent risk of being placed in a nursing facility who prefers to live in their home.”
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Written by Alyssa Gerace