Magazine article Drug Topics

Home Health-Care Survival Linked to Patient Empathy

Magazine article Drug Topics

Home Health-Care Survival Linked to Patient Empathy

Article excerpt

Outside, an autumn chill hinted at relentless winter days to come. Inside Chicago's McCormick Convention Center, however, the atmosphere was warm and inspiring, as 7,000 providers of home health care listened intently while their efforts were lauded.

"You are the heirs to the caring people. You have the power to love, to move mountains," said Val J. Halamandaris, chairman of the National Association for Home Care, in an emotional address at NAHC's annual meeting and exhibition. Likening the caring of home health-care practitioners to that of Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi, Halamandaris said, "As long as you continue to put people first and have a passion for caring about them," home health care will survive. "Each and every one of you is a model for every caregiver, every provider, in this room."

As Halamandaris noted, President Clinton's reform plan included home health care as a key benefit of acute and long-term care. But later, NAHC objected to the 20% Medicare copayment for home health-care services proposed under a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D, Maine). This would have required senior citizens to pay one out of every five dollars of their home health-care costs, Halamandaris explained. "This provision would have hurt senior citizens, the poorest of the poor, the people we care about," he said.

So NAHC "engaged in a battle" to prevent this legislation from being adopted, and it was successful, Halamandaris roared. He drew thunderous applause from the assembled crowd.

Although health-care reform has currently been zapped at the federal level, the battle will continue to be waged at the state level, Halamandaris went on. "Many state legislators don't want to wait for federal health reform but want to do it themselves. The association must get involved and support the states," he urged.

NAHC must be active on another front, he continued. …

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