Hoosier home health care is getting a boost in funding

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INDIANAPOLIS — Help is on the way for Hoosiers needing medical attention at home. For years, Indiana has faced a shortage of nurses in direct care. Lawmakers addressed the problem in the 2021 budget.

In a video recording, you see little Bryce Clausen. He isn’t confined to a hospital or long-term care facility, he’s home and listening to a lullaby sang by his home therapist.

“They’re going to get better care at home, especially if they have family around,” said Bryce’s nurse Brittney King.

She took care of Bryce as he suffered from Krabbe Disease. He passed away from it at just 14 months old. Bryce’s parents, Joel and Andrea were able to find home nurses for him but not everyone can in Indiana due to a massive staff shortage.

“A lot of families are getting turned away,” explained King. “A lot of times parents can’t work full time jobs because if a nurse doesn’t show up, there’s not a line of other nurses at the agency that they can just send out.”

The problem stems from low pay.

“Domino’s Pizza was advertising for delivery drivers for $15 an hour and yet these people who provide healthcare in your homes were getting $11.36. How can we possibly compete with that?” asked Indiana State Sen. Karen Tallian.

King added, “You can go to a nursing home or a hospital and probably make $10 to $12 an hour more easily with the amount of experience I have.”

Sen. Tallian said the state has known this was an issue for a while but finding the money in the budget isn’t always easy. This year was unique.

“The budget forecast came back way higher than anyone had expected, and the federal government was putting out so much money in additional programs that finally for the first time we could afford everything,” said Sen. Tallian.

The new budget includes $10 million in additional state funding for each of the two years to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for home health care workers. Sen. Tallian said it will bump up average wages from $11 per hour to $15.

“There’s also a federal match to this so that whatever the state pays, the feds match by 2-1,” said Tallian.

King hopes more people join the home nursing profession to help Hoosiers finally get the care they deserve.

“I think it’s really rewarding when you get to create these bonds with your patients you really get to advocate for them make sure that they are getting the best of life that they can get,” said King.

You may have recognized her patient, Bryce from another statehouse news story. He ended up inspiring a law requiring all newborns to be examined for the detection of Krabbe disease, Pompe disease, and Hurler syndrome. All three diseases stem from rare genetic conditions. To learn more, click here.

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