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Home care aides not getting paid, may be forced to quit
CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- To Dan Litschgi, finger and arm motion was a very big deal.
Critical, in fact, "If I don't have her do this they get so tight that I can't maneuver my hand at all," Dan said.
Dan had a diving accident in 1996.
He told Local 12, "I'm a quadriplegic from my chest down. I feel everything but I can't move anything from my chest down."
For the past 13 years, Lynne Dean has taken care of Dan as a home health care aide. But Lynne, like many other independent home health care providers, has not been paid since June 1 and without a paycheck she may have to quit and find another job.
"It's affected my health, my patient's health. I haven't been able to sleep. I've had to borrow money to pay my bills," Lynne said.
Lynne and her patient have been caught in a bureaucratic nightmare. The state of Ohio used to pay home health care aides directly through the Medicaid program. But now it's been transferred to insurance companies, in Lynne's case, Aetna.
Lynne said she's called Aetna and every state official and agency she can imagine but still, no paychecks.
Alice Binegar, another home care aide, said, "They feel bad because we're not getting paid. If there was something they could do they would but there's nothing they can do. And I tell them, 'Don't worry about it,' and they say, 'Don't leave me, don't leave me.'"
"They're more than family. He's the most kind and sincere person. I couldn't leave him by himself," but Felicia Bowman may have no choice.
She said her electricity was about to be shut off, her car insurance was due, and she may have to quit and get another job with reliable pay.
"I am so stuck. I have begged and borrowed from everybody I know. I get my money from Cohen Brothers Scrap Yard. If you see me in your neighborhood on garbage night it's because I'm trying to keep food in my daughter's stomach and a roof on her head. That's the only income I have right now," Bowman said.
And so the health care aides and their patients are caught between big government and big business as a new payment program jolts and sputters. The program may ultimately work out, but for these folks, it's not working yet. Not even close.
The advocacy group, Pro-Seniors, was trying to get the state and the insurance company to solve the problems. But Mary Day of that agency said the troubles reported so far do not scratch the surface of how big a mess there is. She said one person's issue may require solution 'A,' another may require solution 'B.' But there was no universal solution for everyone at one time.
Another problem Day said was many independent home health care aides electronically file their time cards using a smartphone because they work on their own and do not go back to an office. But the new system did not allow for smartphone filing.
As for Aetna Local 12 was originally given the wrong person to contact by a company employee; the right person called back Wednesday afternoon. He promised to immediately investigate and give more information once he knows more.
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