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Industry Insights

Letter to the editor: Response to 'Elder care to get a lot more expensive article'

By ,
Don Winant.
Don Winant. - ()

Dear Editor:

We were intrigued to read the article "Elder care about to get a lot more expensive" that appeared in the Tuesday, October 16, 2017 "NJBIZ Morning Roundup" because it pertains directly to the industry we serve. That interest however, quickly rose from troubled dismay to utter skepticism with each successive word.

The Commission on Accreditation for Home Care, Inc. (CAHC) was founded in 1986 by the Home Care Council of New Jersey in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the Home Care Association of New Jersey, and the Home Health Services and Staffing Association of New Jersey. Over the years CAHC has played a significant part in establishing standards and assigning accountability in New Jersey’s rapidly expanding home care industry. In concert with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, CAHC has been providing home health care accreditations for the past 32 years and we remain the only accrediting organization based in New Jersey. We found it odd that the author overlooked this distinction.

The writer acknowledges her occupation as an attorney and offers no credentials regarding her knowledge or involvement in the home health care service industry.  The article’s content notes research, but the data presented and the writer’s use of cleverly placed adjectives, leads us to surmise that the writer’s research was assembled and the article drafted with a predetermined and very pointed one-sided impression to present to its readers.

The writer asserts that the pending adoption of the final state regulations create an altogether new requirement of accreditation that is being forced upon our state’s home health care industry and that they will make provider service deliverables a “lot more expensive”. Such a portrayal is completely devoid of existing realities that have been practiced in our state’s home health care industry for over three decades.

Perhaps an oversight or deliberate shortcoming, the article fails to mention that almost 40% of our state’s providers are already accredited and new agencies are being accredited each and every month. 

In addition, providers who service Medicaid patients have had to be accredited for the past 30-plus years in order to participate in the Medicaid program. They must demonstrate their “commitment to quality care” as evidenced by investing in themselves, their staff, and their practice.

It is that quality of care that is the single, most important factor that the writer omits.  It is that quality of care that reigns supreme as we collectively endeavor to protect our senior citizens and those of us facing challenges from being abused or improperly treated.

Accreditation is an external, independent review of a health care delivery organization and its policies, procedures, processes and outcomes in terms of State-accepted standards.

Why is accreditation important? Accreditation is important because it:

  • Assures that an agency is properly licensed to operate and that its home health aides are properly certified and correctly employed in accordance with all employment laws and taxable jurisdictions. It also verifies that all patient care is overseen and administered by a registered nurse supervisor.
  • Helps determine if an institution meets or exceeds established standards of quality.
  • Helps consumers determine agencies that run effectively.
  • Involves owners and staff to be knowledgeable of industry standards and maintain necessary training and skills.
  • Creates goals for agency self-improvement.
  • Provides a self-regulatory process to compliment state oversight functions.

Acquiring accreditation certainly has its costs, but the article’s cited “costs” are rather overreaching, and over-inflated, with some of them having no bearing whatsoever. One is led to believe that the cited numbers are absolutes and their misstatements have the tendency to cause hysteria for the reader.

By any measure, one would be hard pressed to argue that Medicaid reimbursement rates are fabulous.  NJ state accredited providers have maintained their accreditation and its associated costs for years AND managed to successfully operate their businesses in spite of Medicaid reimbursement rates that are notably low.  In all such cases, accredited providers have improved the quality of patient care, improved their sustainability and absorbed all costs associated with accreditation. Clearly, Medicaid providers have no avenue to pass such costs along to the patient.

As the only NJ-based home care accrediting organization operating for over 30 years, we interact with home health care service providers performing services in every one of our state’s communities.  Some providers operate as franchises and some are branch offices of a large corporation. Most, however, are family owned or sole proprietor small businesses.

As with any industry, there sadly exists unscrupulous operators who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society. The very inception of state regulations and accreditation is meant to eliminate such vultures and drive them out of business.   

By far, home health care providers are really good people who truly care about what they do and are passionate in delivering the very best quality of care. Many providers proudly proclaim that they started their home care business as a direct result of their desire to improve upon the care that they themselves experienced with their own parents and grandparents.

The most overwhelming response that we receive from agencies that we have accredited and those in their accreditation process is that they wish they had become accredited sooner. Accreditation is all about quality of care and enhancing business efficiencies. What unites all accredited providers is their common passion to continuously strive and enhance the quality of care in our communities.

State regulations and accrediting organizations champion best practices. Our state’s accredited providers and their passion for excellence, play a pivotal role to continuously improve our home health care environment. And, that is what it is all about!

Sincerely,

Don Winant, Executive Director, Commission on Accreditation for Home Care, Inc. (CAHC)

•••

An accomplished business executive, Don Winant exhibits an exemplary record of leading and collaborating with all levels of management to enable nonprofits, small, medium to multibillion-dollar businesses to embrace, partner with, and advance innovation to achieve best practices. In addition to his personal career, he has also obtained many high level elected and appointed leadership achievements in various areas of public service. 

Winant serves as the Executive Director for the Commission on Accreditation for Home Care, Inc. (CAHC) and has held that position since 2015.  Prior to this appointment, he was a member of the CAHC Board of Trustees for 5 years, having been elected to the position of the Board’s President for his last 3 years. 

As Winant leads CAHC, he will keep all of its accredited providers abreast of the many changes and challenges occurring in the New Jersey home care and companion care industries.  His strong political and state government relationships will facilitate the timely exchange of vital information among all stakeholders. Mr. Winant is committed to expanding knowledge through educational opportunities for all providers and promoting the benefits of CAHC services to those that need accreditation.   

Prior to his positions with CAHC, Winant held positions of Chief Information Officer and Vice-President of Information Technology for Insync Outsourcing, the Red Apple Group and Gristedes Supermarkets.

After receiving his MBA in Financial Management/Management Information Systems from Iona College, Winant started his career with the NCR Corporation where he quickly rose to the position of Regional Director.  He took leave of NCR to become a founding partner of Tri-Comm Systems developing premier retail technology software systems.

An Eagle Scout, Winant remains involved with the Boy Scouts of America.  He has remained committed to our youth as a boys’ baseball and girls’ softball coach for many years. He also continues to serve as a member and officer in various civic and charitable organizations.

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