March 13, 2002
Contact: Rep. Galen Fox
Phone: (808) 586-8520



House Republicans said today that if Medicare were used instead of Medicaid to cover nursing home care in Hawaii, the federal government would pick up the entire tab. Then Hawaii could redirect the $155 million a year now going to Medicaid to support a new program for in-home long-term care.

"Presently, under Medicaid, the feds pay 56 percent and the state has to match with 44 percent in order to take care of Medicaid nursing home patients," said House Republican Leader Galen Fox. "Unlike Medicaid, Medicare does not require a state match, so Hawaii could use the money instead to support an in-home care program for those who want to stay where they are, rather than move to a nursing home. And with $155 million of diverted funds, we could provide this in-home care without new taxes."

"Several states are already working to have Medicare pick up the cost of Medicaid's elderly long-term care program, thus freeing state money for other uses," continued Fox. "Hawaii should do the sameówe need to save this $155 million a year."

Fox noted that by contrast, First Lady Vicky Cayetano's Care Plus proposal goes in the opposite directionóreplacing 56 percent Federal-funded Medicaid with a program 100% financed by Hawaii taxpayers. According to Fox, "Care Plus would cost us $100 million in new taxes a year, while limiting those who need long-term care to benefits of just $70 a day for only 365 daysóbenefits people don't even see until they have paid into the program for 10 years."