Kentucky looking at ‘telecare’ for Medicaid patients to cut costs

Kentucky is considering making tele-caregivers — off-site guardians who provide care by monitoring cameras and sensors in a patient’s home — available to some disabled Medicaid patients. The move is expected to save money by requiring less onsite care, The Courier-Journal’s Patrick Howington reports. Because they are being monitored remotely, such as by telecaregiver David Crowe (C-J photo by Jordan Kartholl), it also allows patients to stay in their own home, rather than go to a nursing home.

The service is offered by Rest Assured, a subsidiary of ResCare, which is based in Louisville. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services “has asked permission from federal officials to use Medicaid funds for ‘telecare’ services like Rest Assured, as is allowed in Indiana and at least one other state,” Howington reports.
Electronic monitoring is about half as expensive as in-home care and far less than the $5,000 or more a month it costs for a Medicaid patient to live in a nursing home. Rest Assured charges about $10 an hour for its service, resulting in $2,400 a month for eight hours of daily care. Though not expected to solve the state’s Medicaid budget shortfall, “anything we can save at this juncture is wonderful,” said state Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville.
Rest Assured has about 375 clients nationwide “Depending on clients’ needs, the system can provide limited services such as medication reminders and food-preparation guidance for an hour or two a day or comprehensive monitoring for up to 24 hours,” Howington writes. Telecaregivers use video and sensors that monitor temperature change, carbon monoxide levels and how long a patient is in the bathroom. (Read more)
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