10/28/12

Homecare funding finally announced (and it falls short)

The Minister of Health and LTC has finally (7  months into the year) gotten around to making an announcement about the increase to home care funding for this year, at least for the Hamilton Niagara Community Care Access Centre (CCACs fund home care providers).

Aside from the long delay, the matter was kept in confusion this year  because the government choose to talk only about "community" services funding, rather than CCAC funding.  No one knew what they were talking about, exactly.  Which may have suited the government just fine.

The government had talked about a 4% increase for community services -- whatever they are.  But with this announcement the Hamilton Niagara CCAC is only getting a 3.25% increase -- $8 million on a 2011-12 budget of $246 million.

That falls short of what is needed to offset normal home care cost pressures (inflation, aging population, growing use of home care) much less deal with all the other things the government says it is going to do through better home care.

Specifically, the government justifies its cuts to hospital care and its plan to steer patients away from long term care beds by bragging about the wonders it is doing by providing care in the home.

Not with 3.25% they won't.

No doubt we will continue to hear innocent stories in the media  (lightly re-writing government media releases) about the wonders of an expanded home care system.  But it is far from reality.

Other money ($6.7 million) for a variety of services was also announced for the Hamilton-Niagara area, with hospitals, community health centres, the March of Dimes, and palliative care providers apparently the big winners.   But it's difficult  to tell from the announcement how big an increase these are compared with last year. Possibly, these increases bring up the total "community" increase to 4%, to square with the government's previous commitment.


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