ShareThis Page

Home care threatened

| Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Hearing about budget cuts in Washington is nothing new. However, learning about potential cuts with little basis in the law that affect seniors' lives and health is shocking.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently proposed a policy change that would reduce reimbursement for skilled home health services significantly. And while this “rebasing” would lead to financial ruin for care providers in many states, including Pennsylvania, it appears to lack any real basis in the law. Although required to base reimbursement charges on detailed analyses of the costs of providing care and potential impacts, CMS has failed to provide any real rationale for the cuts.

What might seem like a minor reimbursement reduction in Washington is huge in terms of its real-life impact here in Pennsylvania. If the proposed 14-percent cut goes into effect, it is projected that 61 percent of Pennsylvania home health agencies will see operating margins at or below 0 percent in 2017, significantly reducing access to this critical care.

Approximately 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries receive vital home health services for managing chronic disease, preventing costly hospital readmissions and providing rehabilitative therapies. With approximately 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, our health-care system must be ready to improve and expand upon the cost-effective services we offer seniors, not make it impossible for this care to be available.

Join me in contacting our elected officials in Washington and urging them to intervene with CMS regarding the proposed rule for home health.

Kurt Baumgartel

The writer is chief operating officer of Celtic Healthcare ( in Mars.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.