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Medicare Cuts, Copayments In Administration's Budget Proposal Pose Increased Risk For Vulnerable Home Health Beneficiaries

- Home health community calls for program integrity reform to achieve Medicare savings -

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget, home healthcare community members today expressed concern that recommendations to further cut Medicare payments and increase copayments on seniors using home health will not achieve the long-term costs savings our nation needs, while also harming seniors and healthcare providers.   

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare – a coalition of home health providers dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the program integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare for our nation's seniors – strongly opposes the reimposition of a beneficiary copayment in the Medicare home health benefit.  Upon the Medicare program's establishment in 1965, home health was subject to a copayment, but Congress repealed it in 1972 because it had proven to be ineffective in driving down costs, limited patient access to clinically advanced, cost-effective care, and forced patients to seek care in higher-priced inpatient settings.

In " The President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction," the Administration calls for health reforms that accomplish savings "in a way that does not shift significant risks onto the individuals [Medicare and Medicaid] serve, slash benefits, or undermine the fundamental compact they represent to our Nation's seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families." The home health community's analyses indicate that a home health copayment would shift costs to a vulnerable patient population already facing many challenges including higher rates of comorbidities and lower incomes.

Rather than making more across-the-board cuts and instituting copayments that target vulnerable seniors, home health leaders urge the Administration and Congress to enact program integrity reforms that specifically target the isolated nature of home health fraud and abuse. Data clearly demonstrate that waste, fraud and abuse are largely limited to isolated regions of the country and that targeted reforms are a proven method for reducing aberrant behavior and generating significant savings.   

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