The Wisconsin Association for Home Care is demanding an increase in the state’s Medicaid rate for home-based skilled nursing. The two-year, $91 billion budget recently unveiled by Governor Tony Evers provided no additional funding for skilled nursing in the home.

The association wants Wisconsin to increase the reimbursement rate hiked to just over $94 a visit — about $9 more than the current rate. Association executive director Eric Osterman told McKnight’s Home Care Daily his members need more money to recruit and pay more workers.

“Like all sectors of the medical industry, home health agencies have experienced some increasing demand during the pandemic. However, due to limited workforce, the ability to onboard new patients remains difficult,” Ostermann said.

Nearly a quarter of Wisconsin residents are over the age of 60 — slightly higher than the national average. Ostermann said the number of Wisconsin nurses working in home healthcare is well below the national average.

“It’s critical that the state government consider and invest in all medical settings to address this disproportionate aging demographic. Home healthcare hasn’t seen an investment from the state in skilled nursing in a dozen years,” said Ostermann.

State legislators are currently holding public hearings on the governor’s proposal. The association is urging members to contact their state representatives and ask them to rewrite the budget bill to include an increase in the Medicaid rate for skilled nursing.