By Alicia Hopkins: For More Info, Go Here…
Imagine feeling like you have a monitor strapped to your ankle because you need to use Medicaid services to care for your medically fragile child. Imagine being forced to keep a device in your home that puts you under surveillance because you have a disability and require a personal care attendant. This is now the reality for tens of thousands, soon to be millions of people in the United States.
“So what?” you might think at first. “Everyone’s being tracked.” We may choose phones and technology that track us. However, we can control the settings, and turn off location services or not use apps that invade our privacy. What if you had no choice but to be tracked and you didn’t have any control of the settings? What if your independence was the subject of government scrutiny?
The 21st Century Cures Act was passed in 2016. This law provided lots of money for research for rare conditions, the opioid crisis and mental health care. It also contained a small section that stated the government must utilize electronic visit verification for people with disabilities and their caregivers who receive personal care services through Medicaid. This law has been interpreted many different ways by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their interpretations of the law keep changing the more time that passes.
Electronic visit verification uses a smartphone or smartphone-type device to record the dates and times personal care attendants visit Medicaid recipients. Some systems use GPS tracking and store biometric data from caregivers and people with disabilities. If a caregiver is not in the “expected” location (a person’s home) when clocking in or out, some systems flag the visit for further scrutiny, thus interfering with the disabled client’s freedom to go out in the community and travel.
Disability advocates from around the nation have been fighting this law since before it even passed. Meanwhile technology vendors have invested time in misrepresenting the law’s terms, ideas and values. What was simply meant to be a time clock has turned into a gross invasion of privacy in some states, including and especially the state of Ohio, where I live.
Many families once believed EVV would be a good thing. They thought it would be a way to track their providers’ hours and reduce the paperwork that is required. It hasn’t done either for anyone in Ohio. It has left people in fear of losing care, caused many people to lose good providers and has put people at risk of being institutionalized.
Many home health aides working in the field are not technically savvy; they may have limited education or may not be fluent in English. They can’t be expected to learn how to use this technology overnight. In addition, these devices and systems take away from the quality care that can be given by aides and nurses. EVV is far more than a time clock; it puts a person under surveillance in a way that goes beyond clocking in and out for a shift.