By: Diana Bello Aristizábal
“Senior adults are the future because that’s what we are all going to be. For this reason, we must protect them by changing the system,” Miami-Dade County Commissioner, Rene Garcia, said at the most recent healthcare forum organized by Doral Family Journal that took place in July at Miami Dade College’ West Campus.
During the event, healthcare professionals, state and county leaders, Doral elected officials, Adult Day Care providers, and residents gathered to discuss the challenges that the industry faces under a changing economy and a system with glitches.
“Adult Day Care programs make it possible for their relatives to go to work with peace of mind. This is a non-profit business for which we hope to be eventually recognized,” said moderator and Board of Directors’ Vice President of Florida Adult Day Services Association (FADSA), Jason Abdala.
“We offer a safe environment, and we save people a lot of money,” highlighted Abdala as other benefits of a segment that is not receiving enough economic input to compensate for the efforts made.
This sentiment was shared by the rest of the panelists. They are State Senator Ana Maria Rodríguez; State Representatives Alex Rizo, Alina Garcia and Juan Carlos Porras; Commissioner Rene Garcia; and government relations expert David T. Caserta.
The main problem that was discussed at the event is the economic impact that Adult Day Care providers are suffering, especially due to the difference that exists between what each MCO (Managed Care Organization) offers.
“Even if each provider receives a different reimbursement rate, it is still expected for us all to continue having the same level of service. There is a disconnection here because there can be a difference between one and the other of up to 62%,” said Jason Abdala.
In this regard, state representative, Alex Rizo, stated the most reasonable solution is to come up with a set fee schedule, while representative, Juan Carlos Porras, stressed the importance of establishing public and private partnerships. Finding one or more solutions is particularly important in Miami-Dade given that half of Florida’s Adult Day Care centers are located in this county.
“In order to run a business, you need certain amount of consistency which is lacking here. This could cause a lot of companies to either shut down or some of certain size may survive, but with very small margin. Due to the importance of continuing taking care of our senior adults, we have to make sure our leaders are helping,” warned Ana María Rodríguez.
According to René García, the battle is being fought at the state level and in some cases, it has been possible to put some dollars reinstated back into the budget after a meeting in Tallahassee, although there are obstacles that have not been able to overcome. “There is a problem with health plans, and this is why there is such a disparity in reimbursement rates.”
Additionally, there are other factors that play against providers such as the unbalanced relationship between the increase in the minimum wage, cost of living and reimbursement rates in the past 10 years. According to statistics shared in the forum, there has been an 89% increase in minimum wage, 24% in cost of living and only 40% in reimbursement rates.
Given this scenario, panelists concluded that it is vital to come up with a set fee schedule in order to provide equitable resources to Adult Day Care providers, which ultimately would result in all senior adults of the present and of the future receiving top quality service.