Does Medicare Cover Home Health Aides?
The death of Taseko and the birth of NexGen.
“We'd give the home-health-care aide $22,000 a year, and then we'd go to the government, and say, ‘Look, this is a high-quality job with great benefits.
Medicare will pay for it.
We'll pay for it.
And do you know how much it costs?
$11,000 a year!'”.
Medicare is “a low-risk way for us to deliver care,” he says. It's not as low-risk as Medicare+. “But it's pretty low-risk.”
And the quality of care would be good, too, he says. “We're doing a better job than the nursing homes are doing,” he says. “I know it for a fact. The home-care aides working for us are going to be better-trained, better-skilled, better-motivated than those working in nursing homes.”
A lot of the savings in Medicare+ will come from the elimination of the insurance companies. But they have a lot of overhead. A lot of the costs of running home-health-care agencies is overhead too. “When you start to think about the real savings, it doesn't work out to $11,000,” he says.
Boomerang Health, which works with 14,000 clients, is “basically Medicare,” he says. “We do it for half the price.”
When it comes to training and licensing of home-care aides, Medicare works on “a pretty good model,” he says. The home-health-care aides who work for Medicare agencies are “super-motivated.” They're going to be better-trained and better-skilled than the aides who work for nursing homes.
We wouldn't pay more for Medicare+ than for Medicare, he says. “We'll save a lot of money,” he says. “I think that's what the business community should be paying attention to.”
The biggest obstacle to the proposal is “the politics,” he says. “Medicare is the sacred cow.”
“It's not that hard to imagine that we would be able to create a Medicare-like program for $11,000 per year,” he says. “I think we can do a far better job than the nursing-home industry does.”
But this is the business of health care, where it's easy to imagine but hard to do. “It's not that complicated a thing,” he says. “Just nobody's done it.”
The idea is “very similar” to the proposal put forward in 2009 by the health insurance company Humana, he says. “They had a lot of good things in it,” he says, but the business community “wasn't behind it.”
This is a business-driven plan, he says. “There's no reason this shouldn't be a business decision.”
“The fact that Medicare works is not a reason not to do it,” he says.
Medicare isn't going to die, he says. The Affordable Care Act will change the way it operates, but it will still be around. “The fact that it works is the very best reason to do it,” he says.
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, “There's been a lot of noise,” he says. “But it's going to happen.”
Medicare “is going to become a lot more like the private sector,” he says. “That's a good thing.”
The core of the health-care system is going to be the same. “The core of our business is going to be the same,” he says. “It's going to be home care.”
“The home-care industry is going to be the biggest industry in the country,” he says. “That's where we're headed.”
“The one good thing about the economy is it's driving a lot of people to home care,” he says.
Boomerang Health has more than 250 openings for home-care aides, he says. “We're not having a problem finding people,” he says. “We're only paying about $8 an hour.”
That's not enough, he says. “Then again, we've got a lot of money to make up for what the government is supposed to be doing.”
The home-care industry is going to change, he says. “Everybody's going to have to be more entrepreneurial,” he says.
Training the home-care aides is a big part of what he does, he says. “We actually have a training program that's as good as any nursing school,” he says.
The training program for the home-care aides is “the heart of what we do,” he says. “It's really valuable for them, and it's really valuable for their families.”
A lot of the process of delivering health care will be automated in the future, he says. “There's going to be a lot less human contact,” he says.