DHS aids Castle kids program
A Castle Medical Center program that helps medically fragile children to live at home will be keeping its doors open.
Castle said last week that the program would end this month because it was losing money from insufficient state Medicaid waiver reimbursements.
But the state Department of Human Services announced in a news release yesterday that it would increase financial reimbursements for all home care agencies that provide nursing care to children and adults who are Medicaid wavier clients.
Derick Dahilig, spokesman for the Human Services Department, would not comment on the new rates or where the money will come from. The release said the funding will come from "DHS savings earned through expanding federal revenues."
"The Castle Medical Center can now continue to benefit some of the most vulnerable in our state," said Castle Medical Center President Kevin Roberts in the news release. "We are pleased that we were able to work constructively and proactively with the Department of Human Services."
Castle representatives declined to provide further comment.
"It's definitely an answer to prayers," said Jarme Stanley, a registered nurse in the program and a foster mother of a boy receiving service in the program. Stanley feared that she would lose her job and 70 hours of service for her son at the same time. "For me, with my situation, it's an extra blessing."
However, reactions were tempered at other child care agencies because it's not clear if the state is increasing payments to a second Medicaid program called Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis Treatment.
The Community Care Program and EPSDT work together, with EPSDT providing the basic service and Medicaid waivers providing service to children who do not qualify for EPSDT or who need more service.
"If you're not getting one, you're getting the other or you might be getting both," said Sandee Conjugacion, executive director of Supporting Exceptional Citizens of Hawaii, an agency that provides case management services for the state. "If we don't look at the rates of both of these programs, we're still going to have issues."
Conjugacion wants the state to perform an analysis or audit on reimbursement rates for all services provided by EPSDT and Medicaid waivers for children who are medically fragile.
"That should be something that should be happening constantly to ensure that the reimbursement rates are appropriate," she said.
Rick Ream, owner of Nurses Just for Kids, which is a home care provider for children, said, "I don't know why they would increase one and not the other. The way I understand the program to work, the EPSDT is the main program. The waiver program is only a backup net."