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New providers refusing jobs, fear of no pay

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- Help wanted; but nobody's signing up.
That's the latest problem in Ohio's home health care payment crisis which Local 12 News has been reporting on since July 22.  Since a new payment system took effect, many health care aides have been paid late, not enough, or not at all.
Washing dishes is something most of us take for granted.  Unless, of course, you need someone to do it for you:  Shawna Kelley has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.  She has two independent health care aides, Panzie Long and Rhondia Caudill.  And since Ohio changed its payment system for some patients eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, they're not getting paid.

Panzie and Rhondia work different shifts at Shawna's apartment.  But Shawna is eligible for about 13 more hours of care and would need another aide for that.  But because payments have not been coming from the insurance company now handling the program, Shawna cannot find anyone to take the job.

"No one is wanting to take on additional hours because of the problems other people are having getting paid through Aetna," Shawna said. "So they're not calling me back with any references or anything."
So Panzie and Rhondia are working overtime still for no pay.  Because if they quit, they're afraid Shawna would end up in a nursing home.

Panzie told Local 12, "The whole idea of home care is so people can have productive lives in their own home and feel safe.  And if we leave all that's down the drain.  She's already stressed about us and wondering if we will have to leave.  Everybody's lives are turned upside down if that happens."
Both Panzie and Rhondia said the new payment program should work in the long run, and they expect to get their money someday.  They just hope it's someday soon.

Rhondia said, "I guess it's going to take time but they need to hurry up, especially for the independent providers who are not getting paid yet."

Every time Local 12 does a story like this, which generates huge public response, there is usually feedback from both sides.  But so far, Local 12 has not gotten one call from anyone saying, "Hey, I'm an aide in the new payment program and everything has worked for me since day one."  So if you're out there, Local 12 would like to hear from you as well.

A spokesman for Aetna insurance told Local 12 the company has people working overtime to get checks out as quickly as possible.
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