FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 06/09/2020
Rep. Zwiener and Members of the House Request Support for Home Health Agencies
TX — On Monday, Representative Erin Zwiener and 31 members of the Texas House of Representatives requested a centralized reporting system and increased support for home health agencies from Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM). These agencies provide nursing, social work, and therapy to elderly and disabled Texans in their own homes, and the legislator’s requests line up with an earlier letter from Texas Association for Home Care & Hospice.
like our nursing homes, home health agencies almost exclusively serve Texans who are high-risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19,” said Rep. Zwiener. “These agencies are doing their best to keep their patients safe, but they’re also incurring higher costs and navigating a difficult reporting process. The State of Texas can help just like we have with nursing homes.”
Currently, home health agencies report COVID-19 cases among their patients or staff members to local county health authorities. This can create duplication because many agencies work and have staff who live across county lines. Rep. Zwiener and her colleagues requested a centralized process for data collection and reporting, which will both simplify the reporting process and ensure that the State of Texas can identify any patterns in COVID-19 case clusters among home health workers and patients. They also requested a regular testing procedure for care providers, something that has yet to be implemented statewide for any health care workers.
“As Texas continues to open up, case counts will rise as well as exposure risk for home health workers,” said Rep. Zwiener. “We must do everything we can to protect the vulnerable Texans they serve.”
The legislators’ letter also addressed the rising costs of home health agencies, who are having to use more personal protective equipment and pay higher prices for it, as well as modify staffing schedules and slow patient intake to minimize risk of exposure. They requested making home health agencies eligible to receive personal protective equipment from TDEM, a regular testing procedure for employees, and an increase in rates or add-ons for home and community-based service providers.
Contact: David Janise