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Seniors on the Streets?

November 21, 2007

Olympia, WA – Caregivers who run adult family homes in Washington say almost 5,000 seniors and disabled citizens won't have places to live as of December 1 if their adult family homes are required to take on a bigger insurance burden. Two dozen adult family home providers went to the State Capitol on Tuesday to ask Governor Gregoire to reconsider a state requirement they say will put many in their field out of business.

The homes do have some insurance, but the state has mandated an additional $1 million to $2 million in liability coverage for homes serving Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and fewer than half of the caregivers have purchased it. LaDonna Collins, Federal Way, says the amount she gets from the state to care for low-income clients does not even cover their basic living costs, let alone more insurance.

"How can I buy some insurance? I can't even hire anybody to come in and relieve me, because I don't have the money to pay 'em. So I do it myself."

Patricia Banks, who runs a group home in Sea-Tac, agrees. She says someone has to take in those who cannot afford to pay, but requiring several thousand dollars more in annual insurance costs makes it tough.

"We don't get paid that type of money where we could pay insurance like that. And we feel that the state, if they want us to have this insurance, should be the one that pays for it."

At Tuesday's meeting, the caregivers were promised action on their concerns by the Governor's staff. They are asking the state either to pay for the extra insurance or to increase the amounts allotted to care for state-paid clients.
The new insurance requirement went into effect in July. Without a change in the current law, group homes that cannot show proof of coverage on December 1 will not be able to accept Medicare/Medicaid patients.

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WA