Pa. Home Health Care Providers Worried About Medicare Cuts

Home health care providers in Pennsylvania are getting squeezed as Medicare reimbursements for home health services have been scaled back and the possibility of further cuts looms on multiple horizons, reports The Morning Call.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is facing a $716 billion spending cut in the next 10 years, and providers in the sector are already subject to fluctuating Medicare reimbursement rates.

The Morning Call reports:

As Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama duel over whose plan best protects Medicare, officials and employees at Pennsylvania’s hospitals, nursing homes and home health-care agencies are wondering if either candidate’s cure will harm not the patient, but the provider.

If Romney is elected and repeals the law as promised, he’ll have to wring similar savings out of Medicare or the government-funded health insurance program for senior citizens will be unable to cover all of seniors’ health bills before his first term is over.

So when the candidates resume their bickering over Obama’s alleged “raiding” of Medicare or Romney’s plan to “end Medicare as we know it” during Tuesday’s debate, it is clear that without higher taxes, cuts will be necessary to maintain benefit levels. And with no one suggesting that beneficiaries will take the hit directly, that means the pressure will be on those who provide the services.

Health care representatives said the squeeze already has begun.

Among several examples: Hospitals now may lose Medicare money if too many patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge — for any reason. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut home health payment rates by 3.79 percent in 2011 and 2012, and will cut home health by another 1.32 percent in 2013, said Jennifer E. Battista, communications director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association. Another Medicare program for rural hospitals that serve a high number of seniors also was left unfunded. At Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, Wayne County, that will cost $1.7 million.

“This is a significant sum and it will force us to look very closely at the viability of other services at Wayne Memorial,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Clifford.

Hospices, nursing homes, and home care services in Pennsylvania stand to take a $155 billion hit in the next decade under healthcare reform cuts to Medicare, says the article. 

Read the full piece at The Morning Call

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace

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