Alliance Fights Cut to Home Health Rates

Pat Kelleher’s testimony regarding the January 22 hearing in front of the Division of Health Care Finance & Policy on MassHealth’s cut to home health rates.

Despite a rate that barely covers average direct costs, the state is now asking that agencies absorb the expenses associated with a 20% rate cut on approximately 40% of visits.  It’s difficult for home health agencies to see equity in such a cut and freeze reflected across the long term care system.

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Testimony Opposing Cut to PERS

The Alliance’s testimony to DHCFP regarding a cut to the monthly rate for PERS equipment and services.

    To utilize a Personal Emergency Response System is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity for tens of thousands of seniors in Massachusetts, not to mention its great importance for their working or out of state children and grandchildren. Nobody can turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing of financial difficulties, bailouts, layoffs and budget cuts, but a 33 percent cut to a service used by so many is extraordinary even by today’s standards.

    Stimulus Letter to Gov. Patrick and State Officials

    Letter to Governor Patrick and other state officials regarding stimulus funding for home health.

    …it is troubling that once again, home health care agencies have been left off the list of essential providers to receive funds for rate relief. As you know, despite its cost-efficiency, the home health industry absorbed one of the most damaging MassHealth “9C” rate cuts last year in addition to an existing rate freeze. Additionally, home health care has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the fastest growing employment sectors. In light of these factors, it would appear that this money would more efficiently serve taxpayers and the health care system by including funds for the restoration of home health funding.

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    Kelleher Testimony on Telehealth Legislation

    Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher presented testimony before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, along with seven member agencies, including: Partners Home Care, Caritas Home Care, VNA of Boston, VNA of Middlesex-East, VNA of Cape Cod, Hallmark Home Health, and Brandon Woods Home Care. Philips Telehealth also joined the Alliance’s effort in support of the legislation and Senator Harriette Chandler, who submitted the bill, brought in VNA Care Network to demonstrate remote patient monitoring equipment for the committee.

    Telehealth provides an ideal answer to the questions of how to care for an aging population, deal with a health care workforce shortage, and lower ballooning health care costs in the midst of a recession. According to a report by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are heading towards retirement age and “self –care technologies and programs will be increasingly needed to meet the needs of this nation’s aging population – especially in light of a continuing health care labor shortage.” (Technology-Enabled Care at Home, Deloitte, 2008). To further illustrate that point, Johns Hopkins University reported that 90 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have one or more chronic diseases.