Op-ed by Senators Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) and Michele Brooks (R-Crawford).


There are many choices and decisions that need to be made as we age. Medical choices are often the most important, and the most difficult, decisions that people will make for themselves and their loved ones.

One choice that people should never be forced to make is moving out of their home and into an institution because Medicaid will not cover the costs of in-home medical care.

When a person applies for Medicaid, he or she can be presumed immediately eligible for nursing home services.

However, comparable services available through in-home service providers are not immediately available to Medicaid applicants.

The process to have an in-home care application accepted through Medicaid can take months. This long application process forces people to leave their homes and move into nursing home facilities so that they can receive the medical care and supervision they need. 

Our parents, grandparents, and loved ones are currently being forced to pack up their belongings, leave their friends and neighbors, and uproot their entire lives because of the system’s current inability to give them a choice about the medical care that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

This is an issue that has the potential to affect every person in Pennsylvania.

We are pleased to be working on bipartisan legislation to find a solution that not only allows people to access the best care possible but will also save Pennsylvania tax dollars.

Senate Bill 912 will create presumptive eligibility for in-home care. It would allow those age 65 or older who are applying for Medicaid and would be presumed eligible for nursing home services to also be presumed eligible for in-home care.

This legislation was voted affirmatively out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and it will now go to the Senate floor for a vote. 

This legislation will not only provide the in-home care that people need, it will also provide enormous savings for every person who chooses to stay in their home instead of moving into a nursing home facility. In the Philadelphia area, it can cost as much as $65,148 to care for a resident in a nursing home. 

Of course, individuals who would be better served in a nursing home setting are still free to choose that option if they qualify when they apply for Medicaid. Senate Bill 912 gives people the freedom to choose the best location, and the best care, for themselves.

The aging population of Pennsylvania is increasing rapidly. As the members of our families and communities age, we need to make an effort to provide quality care and solutions that will be cost effective in the long-run.

By creating presumptive eligibility for in-home care, Senate Bill 912 provides freedom of choice in the medical care that aging seniors receive. It is also a fiscally responsible solution that allows the state to stop putting out money for nursing home care that seniors do not yet need or want.

Originally posted on October 1, 2018 by PennLive