Fuschillo Measure To Increase Access To Home Care For Medically Fragile Children Included In Budget Agreement

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

April 11, 2006

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), a member of the Senate’s Health Committee, today announced legislative approval of a measure he is sponsoring that would make it easier for medically fragile children on Medicaid to receive care at home rather than in the hospital. The legislation would increase payment rates to nurses who provide these children with home care, bringing them in line with payment rates for similar services for AIDS home care programs.

"Prolonged hospital stays can be very scary for both children and their parents. When a child receives treatment at home, instead of in a hospital, they are in a more familiar and comfortable environment, which greatly aids in their recovery. Home care also makes it easier for parents to be with their children," said Senator Fuschillo. "By raising the reimbursement rates for this type of care, we would make it easier for parents who have a child on Medicaid to find home nursing care for that child."

"This legislation is so important for families like mine who are struggling to keep our children home," said John Villafane, the father of twin boys with a rare disorder that leaves them dependent on ventilators to breathe. "I am extremely grateful to Senator Fuschillo for being a champion for my sons and other medically fragile children who want nothing more than to be with their families."

Medically fragile children are often technology dependent, in need of hospice services or have particularly complex medical regimens. They require regular, often hourly, procedures and interventions that can only be provided by a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse.

Because the reimbursement rate for nurses who provide home health care to fragile children is much lower as opposed to nurses who care for HIV/AIDS patients, many parents with a child on Medicaid have problems finding a nurse to care for that child at home. This forces the child to stay in the hospital, even though his or her condition could be treated at home if a nurse was present. It also places more strain on the parents, who must make many trips back and forth to the hospital to be with their children.

"A serious illness is hard enough for a child to endure," said Bill Tartaglia, the father of a medically fragile child and an Inspector and retired Commanding Officer of the NYPD Gang Division, "she shouldn't face losing her family, too. This legislation is going to help make sure that my daughter and other children like her are able to be cared for safely at home. Senator Fuschillo should be commended for both his compassion and his leadership."

"Once again St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children thanks Senator Fuschillo for his leadership on the important issue of skilled nursing in home care and his continued support of children with special health care needs and their families," said Burton Grebin, M.D., President and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children.

The legislation was approved as part of the 2006-07 state budget.