Fox News: Medicare Cuts Target Women in Home Health Industry

Democrats often accuse Republicans of waging a war against women, but now critics of the Obama Administration say cuts to the Medicare program are negatively impacting home health care jobs – an industry dominated by women.

Job losses in the home health sector are piling up, reports Fox News in a recent article. Home health care advocates say the 14% Medicare rebasing cut implemented by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Jan. 1 as part of the Affordable Care Act is to blame.

Women comprise 90% of professionals that are commonly employed by home health agencies, according to an analysis completed by Avalere Health and Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, released by the home health trade group The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

Medicare beneficiaries receiving home health services are older, poorer, sicker, and more likely to be minorities compared to the rest of the Medicare beneficiary population, the analysis also finds.

Home health care workers are the first line of defense for Cary, N.C.-based Dr. David Fisher, the physician told Fox News, and they can help seniors avoid more expensive treatment.

“We demonstrated that medical care in the home reduces emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Fisher, who makes house calls to seniors.

An estimated 498,000 home health jobs are at risk, according to the analysis, which used the 2011 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey Access to Care File and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and HRSA.

While the number of home health jobs slightly increased from March to April, home health care advocates argue projections for the home health sector remain bleak.

The national home health care sector grew 2.5% from March to April, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

But since implementation of the cuts began, the nation’s home health community has witnessed a decline in job growth compared to previous years, The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare reports.

Between January 2003 through October 2013, the home health sector experienced an average annualized growth rate of 5.41%. From November 2013 through today that average has declined to 1.24%, the Partnership reports citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is believed that by 2017, approximately 40% of home health agencies nationwide will be operating at a loss, according to statements made by the Obama Administration.

Written by Cassandra Dowell