home email us! sindicaci;ón

Nursing Aids

by Nick Jacobs

The very first time I ever visited a nursing home, a high end nursing home, I vowed that, regardless of my infirmity, I could find someone to help me get to the Netherlands to avoid the experience. One of the elements that contributed to this conclusion was my observation of the help.  They were generally overworked, underpaid and angry.  Clearly, minimum wage or near minimum wage was difficult enough, but the responsibilities of a nursing home aid are as difficult as imaginable.

Imagine that this is the best scenario possible, a supervised, controlled environment.  Now, take these employees from the structure of a nursing home, put them into private homes, pray that they get at least 75 hours of instruction to become a home nursing aid and hope for the best.

As additional baby boomers need help in their final years, it is a ticking time bomb that will become more of a problem for this country.  There are few controls in place in many states to ensure proper training, to monitor certification granting centers or to observe the capabilities of these employees.

New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has begun an investigation of home health aides in New York.  One of the issues being investigated is the fact that no one has accurate figures as to how many home health aides work in the State.  According to the New York Times, Cuomo is “in the middle of a two-year investigation into fraud into the home health industry.”  Included in the investigation are schools that have issued inappropriate certifications and agencies that have billed Medicaid for labor that was never performed.

The Times reported that an estimated 131,000 aides are working in New York, and they are generally working long hours for low wages.  Cuomo went on to identify various scams currently being pursued in the state not the least of which involves completely fraudulent billing.

Bottom line?  Although it is a very small percentage of the overall Medicaid budget, it represents millions currently being diverted away from those with medical needs, and, unless or until every state looks into this, the problem will only grow.