Families fear cuts in home health care program - FOX 13 News

Families fear cuts in home health care program

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Families who depend on a home-health program to care for their loved ones will lose it later this summer.

Chapters Health System, which operates Hillsborough County's PACE program, says that program is closing because Governor Scott vetoed $1.3 million in funding.

The PACE program is designed to provide home health services for seniors and patients with complex medical conditions, to allow them to receive care at home instead of a nursing home.

Sharon Cano depends on the program to provide supplies, and a home health aide for her husband who suffers from dementia.

"I'm not asking for much. I just want to continue with what I've got," said Cano. "I felt like somebody had just ripped my heart out."

Chapters Health System says about a hundred patients in Hillsborough County depend on the PACE program to care for and to keep their loved ones at home.

"Unfortunately, some of our participants may end up in a nursing home," said Chapters Health System COO Andrew Lutton. "Nursing home care is much more expensive -- than the kind of care we provide when patients stay in their own homes."

Records show Governor Scott cut some funding for three PACE programs in Florida. Only the program in Hillsborough County is closing. In his veto message, Scott said he cut the funding because it does not serve the state as a whole.

Also, the state is moving toward a different, managed care program that can serve these patients. A spokeswoman for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration issued a statement noting the veto cut funding for expanding the PACE program (and that current slots remain fully funded).

Chapters Health system says it needed to expand to keep from losing money -- so without the funding, it said it had to close.

Here is what Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration sent us in response to this story:

Current slots in the Hillsborough PACE program remained fully funded in the state's budget and were not vetoed.

Chapters Health Senior Independence made the business decision to discontinue effective August 31, 2013. We are disappointed in the business decision by Chapters to cease its operations and services. By confusing the fully funded existing slots with unfunded expansion slots, Chapters needlessly compounded concerns for recipients and providers.

Our primary focus is to ensure Medicaid recipients continue to receive the necessary supplies and services without disruption. In support of this goal, the Agency worked quickly with our partners to begin the transition process upon hearing from Chapters that they made the business decision to close.

The affected recipients have the choice to receive their services through multiple avenues. As of this afternoon, approximately 44% of recipients currently receiving services from Chapters have made the choice to transition to a new plan effective August 1.

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