What does this mean for the home care industry? In addition to home care employees, many of the impending changes could affect Medicare and Medicaid enrollees in a substantial way. The Affordable Care Act was meant to offer health care protection; and while it’s been controversial, it’s managed to ensure those in need receive proper care.
On May 4, the House of Representatives approved legislation to repeal — or at the very least, replace — significant parts of the Affordable Care Act. A repeal of Obamacare has been looming since the presidential debates began in 2015.
Now, changes to Medicare and Medicaid will likely have a snowball effect, eliminating protections from the people who truly need them. More expensive coverage and a more convoluted system — and, therefore, reduced access to home care — are also potential consequences of the proposed policy changes. An Obamacare repeal would, however, also yield several benefits.
What It Would Mean for Medicare
While President Trump hasn’t formally discussed what he plans to do about Medicare, Tom Price, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, is predicting an overhaul of the program. The biggest change would involve charging premiums for Medicare support. Proponents of the change believe that a premium support system would increase competition and coverage while reducing costs.
In reality, it would complicate what is essentially a guaranteed health care program for senior citizens. If seniors have to shop around for their own health insurance, then that would defeat the very purpose of Medicare. The program is currently in place to provide health insurance to senior citizens who may otherwise have trouble affording it. These changes mean fewer seniors would be financially equipped to hire professional caregivers.
What It Would Mean for Medicaid
Currently, the federal government matches every dollar a state government spends in the Medicaid program. In many cases, more money is offered to states with a higher number of low-income residents.
With the proposed policy changes, states would no longer get federal funding for Medicaid. To counter the effects of this, they would either need to cut spending to the program, charge Medicaid enrollees, or raise taxes.
In short, if Congress rolls back the Medicaid expansion, the millions of people who acquired health insurance as a result of the program would lose their coverage. Only some would qualify for government subsidies, many of which may also be repealed.
What It Would Mean for the Broader Home Care Industry
For the home care industry, changes could have dire consequences for aides, many of whom earn just $20,000 per year. Without an affordable option available to them, home care staff risk losing access to health insurance.
However, the proposed policy changes would also repeal the Affordable Care Act employer mandate, which has raised home care costs for companies that offer Medicare and private pay personal care. Since no state Medicaid program has the funding to cover these added costs, in this way the home care industry would benefit from a repeal.
Correspondingly, companies that restricted many home care employees’ working hours to minimize spending on employer-sponsored health insurance coverage would likely encourage their aides to work full-time following an Obamacare repeal, which would be a welcome change.