Karren Weichert: Senate health bill eliminates services for Kansas seniors

Karren Weichert is the president and CEO of Midland Care.

As a health care provider serving frail elders who wish to live at home, I’m alarmed that the news coming out of Washington these days makes little sense or cents for seniors and their families.


The health care bill being considered would cut services that allow older Kansans to age in their homes instead of nursing homes.

I know from working with seniors and their families that the proposed Senate action is contrary to what they want. And numerous studies have shown that putting more people in nursing homes will cost more to the Medicaid program being overhauled by the Senate bill. At Midland Care PACE, we support elders who need a little bit of help to grow old in their homes and see firsthand the impact this choice has on their quality of life and on the lives of their loved ones.

We have been able to delay and prevent nursing home placement through the use of focused programs like our Thrive at Home program, Adult Day and the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). These services are all designed to serve people in their homes, helping them remain as active and independent as possible, engaged with their families, churches and community activities.

Most of us want our parents, and someday ourselves, to be able to grow old at home. We too will need support when it’s our turn to take care of the parents who took care of us.

Programs like Midland Care PACE are there to help so seniors who need a hand getting around the house, doing some shopping and getting their medical care needs met can do so, and so families can support them while maintaining their work and family life. Why Washington would make changes that would lead to more people being in nursing facilities instead of their own homes is beyond all of us who work with seniors and their families every day.

The Senate bill will significantly reduce the resources available to help elders with health and long-term care needs age at home. This should be of grave concern to seniors, and all of us who care for them.

“Caps and cuts to Medicaid will hurt families that are already struggling to find high quality, community-based care options for their aging loved ones,” said Shawn Bloom, President and CEO of the National PACE Association.

For Kansans who choose to age in their homes, Medicaid can cover the cost of providing coordinated, community-based and comprehensive care that helps with daily tasks like dressing, bathing and cooking. The cost of care that supports aging in place tends to be lower than nursing home care.

The Senate should stop and reconsider how its action will impact seniors and their families. Any changes to our health care system must support adequate funding for community-based long-term care options.

Karren Weichert is the president and CEO of Midland Care.



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