Demand for long-term care expected to rise as population ages

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Sep 28, 2017 5:54 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania is one of the country's fastest-aging states. As people get older, the need for long-term care services is expected to rise.

However, supply may not be able to meet the demand.

Pennsylvania spent nearly $40 million in Medicaid funds on delivering health care in the home in 2013, the most recent year for data. That type of care is still optional under Medicaid, while more expensive institutional care such as nursing homes must be covered.

Joseph Scopelliti is President and CEO of Shamokin-based VNA Health System, which delivers home health care services across central Pennsylvania.

He says his company loses money on every home visit because Medicaid is underfunded.

"It is a huge problem, and it largely goes unrecognized because the people that are on medical assistance tend to be a population that's forgotten," he said.

Scopelliti says people on Medicaid often use the emergency room as their source of primary care. 

"So that represents a huge cost to the system, and I think there's tremendous savings to be made there if we could only have the recognition that the issue and taking care of those people needs to be addressed," Scopelliti said.

He adds a solution must be coordinated between the federal and state government to make sure the aging population is properly cared for in the coming years.

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