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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 (celtichealthcare.com) in Mars.

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