April 23, 2013
By Marc Bussanich

Council Speaker speaks to stakeholders in the home care industry at 1199SEIU
Council Speaker Christine Quinn addresses home care aide summit

New York, NY—Council Speaker Christine Quinn recently discussed how the city can utilize an important asset—hundreds of thousands of home care aide workers—to reduce overall health care costs by limiting hospitalizations. New York’s Medicaid Redesign is designed to reduce costs, and one way to achieve that goal is to train the home aide workforce to take care of patients at home without going back to the hospital. Watch Video

Quinn spoke on Monday morning at the Home Care Aides Summit at 1199SEIU where stakeholders in the home care industry gathered to learn about the changing roles home care aides will play in the future health care delivery system.

Last week Quinn announced the New York Health Employment Coalition, which consists of health care organizations, provider associations, City agencies and labor. The coalition is tasked with coming up with protocols that will change the home care aide occupation.

“The Medicaid Redesign and Affordable Care Act give us an opportunity to potentially seize new resources and create new opportunities to keep New Yorkers well and to employ people, but also help people who are employed move up the ladder,” said Quinn.

New York spends $54 billion annually on Medicaid, the most than any other state. With increasing pressure to cut costs via Medicaid Redesign and President Barack Obama’s budget proposal to cut federal health spending, while demand for services keeps growing, New York faces a unique challenge.

According to Helen Schaub, Vice President at 1199SEIU, home care aides take care of clients at home without collaborating with doctors and nurses, thereby increasing the number of incidents of re-hospitalizations, which is a major factor for driving up Medicaid costs in New York.

She believes that the hundreds of thousands of home aide workers in the state are well positioned to take on more tasks so that patients can be cared for at home rather than in a hospital.

“Right now they’re very isolated from the doctors and nurses that make the medical decision for the clients they care for. With better integration and more ability to have tasks delegated to them, those aides can keep people healthier, keep them out of the hospital and reduce health care costs overall by doing so,” said Schaub.

To help home care aides become qualified in providing greater care for clients at home, the union’s training center provides individuals, who already work as aides but wish to become a nurse, an opportunity to pass the CUNY entrance exam in math in order to enter the college’s nursing program.

“We want to seize this opportunity to make our system better, and to help folks who have been taking care of New Yorkers so well, move up the ladder so they can deliver higher levels of care, but also bring home a more significant paycheck for their families,” Quinn said.

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