Should Non-Nurses Give You Your Meds?

Apr 19, 2012

Gov. Dannel Malloy has promised to move more than 5,000 poor and disabled patients out of nursing homes in five years.  But he says there's an obstacle -- a state law that says only nurses can give medications to people in the Medicaid system living at home. The governor's plan has faced some opposition in the legislature.

Malloy's bill would let trained home care aides -- who now cost half what nurses do --  administer medications.  That's called nurse delegation, and Malloy says it would save millions of dollars.  And that, he says, would make it easier for Medicaid clients to live in their homes.  Because the status quo, he says, is just too expensive.

But the legislature's Human Services Committee apparently thought otherwise.  The version of the bill that it passed shrunk the number of Medicaid patients who could participate in the new program.  

Anne Foley works in Malloy's Office of Policy and Management.  She says the governor and stakeholders say that change doesn't work.

"We are in agreement that limiting nurse delegation to one subset of the population being served in home care isn't workable from the provider's standpoint."

But there's a new draft bill under discussion between the administration, legislators, advocates for nurses, and providers of home care.  That draft appears to again broaden the patient pool.  Again, Anne Foley.

"The main reason that we're doing this is to make sure that we can serve as many people in home care environments as is possible, and safe and productive and healthy for them."

The legislative session ends in early May.

This story is part of a partnership with WNPR, NPR, and Kaiser Health News.