Medicare to Help Fund Adult Health Day Care

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

August 15, 2005

If you've ever had to pay for any type of daycare service, then you know just how expensive it can get. Medicare is now looking to help cover the cost of adult daycare.

When Jean Ross began working with the Jefferson Board for Aging, she decided to enroll her 84-year-old mother, who lives with her, in JABA's adult health day care program. The average cost is about $58.00 a day.

"A day or two here and there is not too bad, but when it's everyday it's quite an expense," said Jean Ross.

Too much for some caregivers, but now Medicare has come up with a three-year test program to help pay for adult day care. Right now, adult day care isn't covered, but home health services are.

Under the trial, any elderly person who uses home health services could instead go to an adult day care center. Sheryl Cooper thinks the plan would save caretakers, home health services, and the government money.

"Instead of [home health] having to make five visits to five different homes, [if] those five clients are in daycare, it's a more effective and efficient way to provide the services," said Sheryl Cooper, Regional of JABA's Adult Health Day Care Center.

Adult day care is much like child day care, complete with structured activities, field trips, and the added benefit of some health services. For Ross's mother, Marguerite, the effects have been enormous.

"She enjoys other people, she's made friends, and [she] loves to play bingo," said Ross.

But it could be years before the test program completely takes off. Still, Cooper sees it as a great first step.

She said, "We hope that it will be broadened to folks who need daycare, but not necessarily to those who need the skilled services."

The 3-year pilot program will run in five test areas beginning next year.

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