When the Home Health Aide is a Relative

i_healthcare_geriatricsThere is currently a bill pending in the Washington State legislature that would prohibit state reimbursement for home health care to home health aides (or health care workers in similar roles, usually employed by agencies) who are related to or live with the patient. The bill is called “House Bill 2361” and I would strongly suggest that home health aides or those aspiring to work as HHAs research this bill as well as current legislation in their own state.

Once you’re done researching, I have some obvious questions for you from both sides of the debate.  On the pro side (arguing to stop paying the home health aides if they’re related to the patient), there is the question of why a home health aide who is related to the patient should be paid in the first place?

Traditionally, don’t family members take care of each other, especially during times of illness?  I can attest from personal experience that my mother was just as good if not better than many of the CNAs and HHAs I worked with as a nurse.  She took excellent care of my father while he was dying of a debilitating brain disease.

On the con side, there is the valid point that all home health aides should be paid according to their skills, training, experience and work performed, regardless of whether they are related to the patient. Having seen how hard home health aides work, I definitely see this side of the debate.  My mother may have had the best suggestion of all.

After taking care of my father for close to 10 years before he passed away, she suggested that the government give a significant tax break or refund to those who choose to take care of their relatives in the home versus placing them in a long term facility to be cared for by others.  As she put it: “The work I’m doing is saving the state of Florida so much money (the bed, staff, supplies, meds, labor) – shouldn’t I get that money back somehow?”  What do you think?

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