Home health care services provides men and women across the country numerous benefits. It not only allows them to avoid costly and uncomfortable nursing home options, but it allows them to remain safe at home, improving quality of life and even allowing aging men and women the opportunity to stay actively engaged in life. Unfortunately, at least in Illinois, there have been ongoing problems that complicate home care for those who need it (and their families).
One of the most significant issues facing home health care in this state was that too many licenses were handed out for years when home care was on the rise. It led to numerous fraud complaints and investigations and even though the federal government placed a moratorium on new licenses for home care agencies (for Illinois) in 2013, the state is still grappling with the aftermath.
According to the editorial, Illinois’ home health care hustle, written by the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune:
“In 2013, the federal government banned Illinois from issuing new licenses. The feds said that fraud was rampant, driven by too many home health companies for too few patients. Still, Cook County has more home health companies than the entire state of New York.
Many companies provide excellent care for their customers. The industry’s trade association, the Illinois Homecare and Hospice Council, represents about 160 providers (among the 750 or so licensed in the state).
“We support the moratorium,” Executive Director Sara Ratcliffe told the Tribune. “We want more enforcement.”
So do we. This field of dreams needs to be weeded of fraudsters. At least 357 active home health companies in the Chicago area have been linked to potential financial fraud by federal investigators but never charged.”
It’s not just Medicaid and taxpayers that are struck by those committing fraud in the name of providing home health care support services, but also the clients themselves. When they are subjected to unnecessary tests or services, it puts them at risk. As the editorial pointed out, some patients were even prescribed unnecessary and powerful prescription medications.
They key is for those who need these services, including their families, to be diligent in their search for providers. In an area like Illinois, especially around Chicago where this level of fraud has remained entrenched, be vigilant in the search and keep on top of the services provided. Home care agencies -legitimate, honest, and compassionate ones- might consider more focus on education and information for the general public so they will be able to discern between the fraudsters and the quality, safe, and supportive providers.
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