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Pa. makes first moves to help older adults stay at home

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Dec 14, 2015 1:36 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- Surveys show nearly all older adults prefer to live at home compared to a nursing home.

But for many, that's not possible - for a number of reasons.

Now, Pennsylvania is trying to add more options.

It will be a long process, but the state is making the first moves to encourage health care providers to keep older adults at home, if possible.

As part of an overhaul of its Medicaid program, the Department of Human Services will offer incentives to providers who find a way to make in-home care possible.

Secretary Ted Dallas says as many as 95 percent of older adults want to stay at home.

"I don't how long it'll take us to get there or if we'll ever get there. But one thing I'm pretty sure about is that we can do better than the 50 percent that we're doing right now and we can give people more of what they want," says Dallas.

The revamp also hopes to improve care while reducing cost, a goal often set by health care organizations.

"We have seen this issue and this problem with for instance, the assisted living regulations, where we try to do a one size fits all. The needs of older adults are completely different than the needs for a younger disabled," says Ron Barth, president of LeadingAge PA, a trade group for providers of services to older adults.

He says he's watching the state carefully.

It will start to ramp up in January 2017, and will be implemented in three phases.

The state is holding monthly webinars on the third Thursday to answer questions and provide updates.

Another one is scheduled for the 17th.

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