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TennCare Patients Open Their Homes To Protest Nursing Care Cuts

September 29, 2008

Nashville, TN – It's a different kind of open house. Today and Tuesday, Tenncare patients around the state are inviting members of the news media into their homes to talk about what they say is an unfair deadline. Tennesseans who receive state support for in-home health care have been given 30 days to find less expensive nursing services, due to cuts in payments. If they cannot, the state will place them in nursing homes.

Health care advocates say the timeline is unreasonable and unacceptable. Susan McKay, with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, says many people who receive in-home health care are still young enough to be productive members of society and don't belong in nursing homes.

"With proper, humane services, they're actually able to attend college, have a job, have a life."

State TennCare Bureau managers argue that in-home care is too expensive and cutting nursing services will save taxpayer dollars.

McKay acknowledges that Tennessee doesn't offer many good options--in fact, the state ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to home- and community-based services. However, McKay points out, TennCare is fully budgeted through spring 2009, and the recently passed, bi-partisan Long Term Care Community Choices Act was designed to give people options.

"We are cutting care to people who need it and forcing them into nursing homes rather than implementing the common-sense, reasonable programs and alternatives that everybody is saying they want."

McKay says there's no need to rush families who already face medical and financial burdens into making such a major decision.

Barbara Dab/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - TN