Families who care for disabled loved ones are complaining about a proposal that will reduce the amount of state-subsidized, in-home care for their loved one. The proposal on so-called “respite care” is one of more than a dozen cost-saving ideas approved by the legislature last month.
State Medicaid Director Jennifer Vermeer says the state can save two-and-a-half million dollars by limiting the number of hours a year a family can receive free, in-home care for a disabled loved one. “Respite (care) is a very meaningful service. If you look at our coverage policy relative to other states, though, our coverage is very generous,” Vermeer says. “So that is one of the areas that we looked at to try to ensure overall financing for the (Medicaid) program and ensure access to the very broad range of services that Medicaid provides.”
Vermeer says more than 6,000 Iowa families who care for a disabled family member in the home currently qualify for respite care, but only about 750 will be affected by the new policy. One of those is Piper Marquis who relies on the service for her six-year-old son who is wheelchair bound and fed by a tube. She says it gives her time to focus on her three older children.
“To have respite come into the house for a couple of hours so I can help them with their homework and not be interrupted is priceless to us,” she says. The Marquis family currently qualifies for more than 2,000 hours of respite care a year. Under the new proposal, the state would provide 576 hours of free care for her disabled son.
“It is taxing and everybody deserves a break,” Marquis says. The Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee will debate the implementation of this proposed budget cut at its next meeting on August 16th.