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Medicaid, Medicare restrictions pose challenge for getting seniors mental health services amid pandemic

Nursing homes across the state have banned visitors due to the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19. As result, facilities have had to shift their efforts to battling loneliness, which is already prevalent among the vulnerable group that resides in them.

The hardworking staff at nursing homes and senior care facilities across the state is doing just that.

“The people in our nursing homes are resilient people,” Chuck Hayes, Elderwood Nursing Home marketing and communications vice president told LocalSYR.

“It’s difficult for any of us to be separated from the ones we love, and people that we are used to seeing on a regular basis is hard,” Hayes added. “We put things in place to make it a little easier for them.”

A recent study found that more than 40% of seniors suffer from loneliness and for those who may need more attention toward their mental health — finding the right kind can be a challenge.

Medicare and Medicaid Services only cover video Telehealth services. But not all facilities across the state have access. Telephones cannot be used and reimbursed. Traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids. Check out Health.com’s review of top hearing aids in 2020.

“The only lifeline for a lot of these individuals is the telephone,” Rep. John Katko told LocalSYR. “Because you simply didn’t have video attached to the telephone, you’re not going to get service, that’s crazy.”



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