The Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA) published a letter to the editor written and submitted by Jeanne Ryan who is the Executive Director of the VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickenson.
The letter, which was published on July 28, urges advocacy on behalf of home health given the proposed cuts to Medicare reimbursement. The Gazette website requires a subscription so a link is not available, but the letter is posted below.
To the Editor:
Home health has become an increasingly important part of our health care system. The kinds of highly skilled and often technically complex services that our nation’s home health agencies provide have enabled millions of our most frail and vulnerable seniors and disabled citizens to avoid hospitals and nursing homes. By preventing such institutional care, home health services save Medicare millions of dollars each year. More importantly, they enable individuals to stay just where they want to be – in the comfort and security of their own homes.
I am writing to urge our local citizens to oppose further cuts in Medicare home health payments. The Administration’s FY 2010 budget includes a proposal to cut Medicare home health payments by $13.16 billion over five years. This would come on top of additional administrative cuts in payment rates of$7.59 billion promulgated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) over the period from 2008 through 2011.If these new cuts are implemented, nearly two-thirds of America’s home health agencies will have negative results and Medicare patients in large sections of the country will be at risk of losing home health services.
The Medicare home health benefit has already taken a larger hit in spending cuts over the past ten years than any other Medicare benefit. In fact, home health as a share of Medicare spending has dropped from 8.7 percent in 1997 to 3.6 percent today, and is projected to decline to 3 percent of Medicare spending by 2016.
Further deep cuts in home health spending will also place the home care delivery system at significant risk. This is particularly true at a time when the cost of providing highly skilled care in the home is increasing. I urge you to join the VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson in opposing any further cuts to homecare Medicare reimbursement by call or writing Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy.
Jeanne M. Ryan, MA, OTR, CHCE, COS-C
VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson
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