Government Watch

Attention Seniors – Obamacare Forcing 14 % Cut to Medicare’s Home Health Care

from The Washington Examiner – by Richard Pollock –

“An estimated 3.5 million poor and ill homebound senior citizens will wake up on New Year’s Day to discover Obamacare has slashed funding for their home health care program.

It will happen because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quietly issued a regulation Nov. 22 announcing a 14-percent cut over the next four years in funding for the Home Health Care Prospective Payment program.

The rule cuts Medicare payments to home health care providers by 3.5 percent each year beginning in 2014, for a total cut of 14 percent.

The program puts health care in the homes of seniors suffering from acute or chronic afflictions, or who are in need of rehabilitation therapy.

By CMS’s own calculation, 40 percent or nearly 5,000 home health companies — mainly small businesses — will experience a “net loss” in revenue due to the cuts and go into the red by 2017. That will put many of them out of business.

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice calculates the losses will be much more severe, affecting 75 percent of all home health care companies.

Nearly a half million skilled home care workers are also projected to lose their jobs over the next four years due to the cuts, according to the program’s supporters.”

The cuts may also have a disproportionate impact on minorities and those living in under-served rural communities.

A November 2013 study by Avalere Health, a Washington, D.C., health care business analysis firm, found that two out of three home health care recipients fall at or below the federal poverty line.

The study also estimated that one in four seniors getting home health care are age 85 or older.

Federal officials had discretion to keep Medicare home payments at the same level or impose a maximum 3.5 percent cut each year through 2017 to reach the 14-percent reduction.

But CMS opted to impose the maximum reduction, beginning on New Year’s Day 2014.

Former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin decried the rule, saying “it’s obviously a decision they’ve made to maximize reductions in Medicare spending in order to fund Obamacare.”

The Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010 included $716 billion in Medicare cuts to help fund Obamacare.

“They’ve just basically doubled down and said, ‘We’re going to cut seniors’ health care again, and we’re going to cut the most vulnerable of all in America in order to fund the ACA,’” Tauzin, a Republican, said.

Tauzin said the cuts did not have to be made: “This was an extra cut. It was a discretionary authority of CMS to review the base funding for home health.”

Tauzin is now a political consultant to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, a trade group that represents 12 home health care companies.

Tracey Moorhead, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurses Associations of America, called the cuts “devastating.”

Moorhead said in a Dec. 2 blog post that “the home health industry was not included in the models envisioned by [Obamacare], other than as a revenue raiser for the legislation.”

Val J. Halamandaris, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, said Congress asked CMS to evaluate the home health care benefit to increase access and efficiency and to reduce costs, not to kill the program.

“Instead, all they did was look to impose the largest possible cut — 3.5 percent a year — on the Medicare home health benefit,” he said.

Moorhead said the decision to cut the program was made before completion of a study — for the government — of how the reductions would affect vulnerable patients.

“So it is unclear to us how they have effectively and appropriately considered the impact on vulnerable patients,” she said, “before they have put out this final rule.”

Fifty-one senators appealed in a September letter to Tavenner to reject the proposed cuts to home health care agencies, saying enactment “would raise serious concerns about access to care for vulnerable seniors.”

There were 35 Democratic signers of the letter to Tavenner, 15 Republicans and one independent.

Also in September, 142 members of the House of Representatives wrote Tavenner that “home health is a critical service that allows patients to be treated in a cost effective manner in the environment they prefer — their home.”

Sixty-six House Democrats joined 76 House Republicans in signing that letter.

Twenty-six organizations representing a broad coalition of health care and social service organizations also called upon House and Senate leaders last August to oppose the proposed cuts.

“If finalized in its current form, this rule will put access to care at risk in rural, minority and underserved communities all across the U.S.,” the coalition members said.

Defending the rule, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum said, “CMS is confident that Medicare beneficiaries will continue to receive quality home health services across the country under our final policies.”

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19 Comments on "Attention Seniors – Obamacare Forcing 14 % Cut to Medicare’s Home Health Care"

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Vivianne Hoskinson
2 years 6 months ago

Obama and Sibelious evidently do not care about seniors…

Sharron
2 years 7 months ago

What next? CMS put in a new rule about “2 midnight” for hospitals so anyone on Medicare has to be admitted to the hospital for 2 nights or part A of Medicare will not cover an ER visit unless they are. If they are admitted for “observation”
part B will cover only certain parts and the patient will have to pay the rest. Now they are cutting home health care! Yes,
this new health care will really help people, just not SENIORS!

Charleston Voice
2 years 7 months ago

Does mean seniors should suck out all their home equity before they lose it?

Ron Hudgins
2 years 7 months ago

Well, the truth will always be revilled, but not aright away, Affordable care Act is in no way affordable to an individual or to the country,tax payer, and we don not elect business person to our congress and this is a good reason why we should. AMAC please make it possible to print these articles seperate fron the comments and then the comments seperate from the articles. Thanks, Citizens just remember to vote against any democrat in the November election, they all voted for this failed Affodable care act of theirs,harry Reid, nancy Pelosi and O’ba-ma. vote them out of office.

Robert Baker
2 years 7 months ago

I appreciate the work that AMAC is doing to represent the low and middle income Americans. Otherwise, we would not have any body helping we people. I’ve lived a long time and I haven’t ever seen a time such as exists now. The federal government and it’s leadership has really got this country in a big mess and no one is held accountable.
Accountability has been phased out. God and personal integrity aren’t included in the process of leadership and government. Liberal values have taken center stage. I hope the next administration will see the need to live within our means. Our nation cannot spend its way out debt. Our national debt and income needs to be headed to an equilibrium ratio and not the opposite direction.
I appreciate this forum that gives me an opportunity to address my concerns.
Sincerely,
Robert Baker

Robert Baker
2 years 7 months ago

I appreciate the work that AMAC is doing to represent the low and middle income Americans. Otherwise, we would not have any body helping we people. I’ve lived a long time and I haven’t ever seen a time such as exists now. The federal government and it’s leadership has really got this country in a big mess and no one is held accountable.
Accountability has been phased out. God and personal integrity aren’t included in the process of leadership and government. Liberal values have taken center stage. I hope the next administration will see the need to live within our means. Our nation cannot spend its way out debt. Our national debt and income needs to be headed to an equilibrium ration and not the opposite direction.
I appreciate this forum that gives me an opportunity to address my concerns.
Sincerely,
Robert Baker

John
2 years 7 months ago

You want to move to Europe Roberta because their system is more humane? I agree, and we could eliminate all the money grabbers in the health care insurance industry by implementing a one payer system. Obama is a disappointment in that he compromised early on, trying to placate those who have the nerve to call themselves republicans. Allowing the patriot act to continue was yet another betrayal. There’s nothing patriotic about it.

Truman W
2 years 7 months ago

Final policies, or should it be properly said, Final solution ? A nations morality is known by how they treat the little ones, and the elderly. Some leaders are so mad for power, refuse to learn from history.

Roberta
2 years 7 months ago
Nobody ever talks about Seniors who can’t afford prescriptions. That’s what’s going to kill the older generation. No meds. Yes, it’s bad to cut home healthcare. I agree since I receive it. But where do I get my meds please? Do our elected officials get the medicines they need? I bet they do. As it is now, I have to be approved by Medicaid to get Home Healthcare and then the cost of Home Health Care satisfies my spenddown to get prescriptions. I can never get out of this system. I hate this. Absolutely hate being a medicaid recipient just to get my medicines. I worked 2 or 3 jobs my whole life and now I’m on Medicaid. Just a shame. What is this world coming to? Scares me. It seems most of our elected officials have their heads up their asses. Do they think they are not going to… Read more »
REBECCA
2 years 7 months ago

OKAY, let the politicians go first. Cut back on their health care and services. Aging at home with help is much cheaper and better for the elderly than warehousing in a institution.

Sherry
2 years 7 months ago

In time, they will legalize euthanasia for the elderly. Then they won’t need Medicare. It wouldn’t surprise me if Obama doesn’t try to get that done before he leaves office.

Linda Herring
2 years 7 months ago

I think it is quite possible that Obama’s plan is to get all the senior in nursing facilities. They are easier to control or depopulate(kill) that way. I am 63. Personal I don’t care if I’m depopulated but when I leave this world It should be God time to take me.

choctaw
2 years 7 months ago

wonder how much foriegn aid was cut…..

Jim Hughes
2 years 7 months ago

It’s not “foreign aid” which is miniscule now… but the funding of illegal wars everywhere which needs to be boosted, apparently. And to jeopordize vulnerable seniors in order to do it? The Nazis couldn’t have dreamed up a better plan.

Larry B
2 years 7 months ago

Just another obamacare lie, we need to repeal obamacare, impeach Obama and vote out every politician in Washington and get some people in office with term limits that have common sense WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!

Timothy Stitzel
2 years 7 months ago

Leave it to those in power to screw the senior citizens. If it were not for them, people like our President and Congress would not be here. Now there is a thought.

Alice
2 years 7 months ago

Being a senior citizen, I feel that this is just another way to rid the country of the “older generation”. It is deliberate, cut care for the old person dying at home of cancer or some other disease; but by god let’s hand out birth control free and pay for abortions with tax dollars. WHAT in the world have we become as a nation?

DAVID CHRIST
2 years 7 months ago

IT HAS BEEN SAID BY THOSE PUSHING OBAMACARE THAT IT WILL NOT AFFECT SENIOR CITIZENS HEALTH CARE. HOWEVER THE MORE I HEAR ABOUT THE “ACA” IT IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE OBVIOUS THAT SENIOR CITIZENS ARE AT RISK AND THOSE ORGANIZATIONS AND EMPLOYEES WHO ARE TRYING TO ASSIST THE AGING POPULATION ARE BEING TARGETED FOR INFERIOR CARE AS A RESULT OF THE CURRENT DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATIONS “PRESIDENT OBAMA”. ALL THIS IS BEING DONE WITHOUT ANY ADVANCE NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC SO AS TO NOT RAISE ANY OPPOSITION. I FULLY SUPPORT THE AMAC IN DISCLOSING ALL INFORMATION ABOUT HOW THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION IS TARGETING SENIOR CITIZENS BENEFITS NOW IN PLACE.

PLEASE KEEP UP YOUR GOOD EFFORTS TO KEEP WE SENIOR CITIZENS INFORMED OF ANY CHANGES IN BENEFITS AND OR HEALTH CARE THAT COMES OUT OF RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO STATE AND FEDERAL REGULATIONS.

PaulE
2 years 7 months ago

Defending the rule, CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum said, “CMS is confident that Medicare beneficiaries will continue to receive quality home health services across the country under our final policies.”

Yeah, I’m sure they will. Right after CMS quietly re-defines, in another regulation, what “quality home health services” now means in the era of Obamacare. I’m wondering when they will put up the big, flashing neon sign on the front of the CMS building in Washington saying “Seniors, please die faster!”

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