Senate OKs bill to provide new home-based care option
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin to create a new long-term care option for seniors and people with disabilities.
The legislation (2018-S 2734A), which will now go to the House of Representatives, would establish in Rhode Island the “independent provider” model of at-home care, which allows consumers to hire and manage caregivers of their choice while the state takes on certain responsibilities, such as setting caregivers’ wages, qualification standards and hours.
By increasing both availability and quality of at-home care options, the bill’s ultimate goal is to move Rhode Island toward greater use of care in the community rather than in nursing facilities, since at-home care is both more comfortable and satisfying for consumers and less expensive than nursing facilities.
“Presently, Rhode Island ranks 42nd in the nation in terms of investment in home care. Ninety percent of older Americans prefer home care. Not only is it more comfortable for seniors, it’s more cost-effective, as we’ve seen in states like Massachusetts. High-quality home care is what people want, and it saves money. I’m proud to support this effort to help make excellent home care available to more Rhode Islanders,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
Currently around 77 percent of Medicaid funding for long-term services and supports goes to nursing facility care rather than community-based care. Those who use community-based care generally go through agencies or find, hire and manage a caregiver on their own. This bill would create a third option.
Under the independent provider model, which has been in place in Massachusetts since 2008, consumers would still be the direct employer who determines when to hire or fire an employee, but the state would take on responsibilities for maintaining a registry of qualified caregivers, and would set parameters such as rates, qualifications and hours.
While the legislation stipulates that they are not employees of the state, it would give home care workers the right to collectively bargain with the state over those parameters. Allowing them to organize would ensure that this otherwise dispersed workforce has a unified voice and a seat at the table to tackle the issues facing Rhode Island’s long term services and supports system, said Senator Goodwin.
Consumers in states with independent provider models report higher levels of client satisfaction and autonomy, received more stable worker matches, improved medical outcomes, and reduced unmet need with agencies delivering fewer hours of care relative to the needs of the consumer.
The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2018-H 7803) in the House.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903