INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier families are calling on state legislators for help. Those who have home health care for children with medical needs say they're struggling to find nurses to take care of their kids properly.
There are more than 14,000 patients in Indiana's Medicaid home care program right now. Meaning, that's how many families have at-home nurses to help take care of their children with medical needs. But the problem parents say they're running into is keeping good, well-trained nurses long enough.
Eight-year-old Emma Goeller has cerebral palsy. Thanks to the 'Aged and Disabled Medicaid waiver' she's able to receive home nursing care. Emma's mom Annie Goeller and her husband both work, so the waiver is a huge help for them.
"You get with wonderful people, and they are so committed to what they're doing," Goeller said. "But at some point, it becomes financially not feasible for them anymore."
Annie says their home care nurses keep leaving for higher paying jobs at hospitals or other facilities.
"That makes it hard. You don't have stability; you don't have reliability. So, it comes to the point of, 'oh my gosh, I don't think we have a nurse today. Who is calling in sick to work?'" Goeller explained.
In the past six years, Emma's worked with dozens of different nurses.
"A lot I would say I would say probably at least 20 or 25," Goeller said.
Goeller says that, in general, there are states that pay better than Indiana does.
Evan Reinhardt with the Indiana Association for Home and Hospice Care says in some cases, nurses on the facility side can make double what home care nurses do. And legislators recognize it, too.
"We are trying to put more money in the hands of those home care providers so they can be competitive when they're competing against hospitals and other healthcare providers," Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indiana, said.
"We are seeing much more of a response from the legislature," Reinhardt said. "Now it's a question of can we see some dollars put behind these services?"
And if not, Goeller fears that families like hers will lose care.
The legislature has already decided on the budget for next year, but the state also has $2 billion surpluses right now. Families are asking The Office of Family and Social Services Administration to dedicate some of that money toward increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate for home health care. They have until June 30 to make that decision.
If you feel inspired by this story, families urge you to call your state lawmaker.