Medicare Home Health
January 14, 2011 by staff
Medicare Home Health, (AP) – Medicare beneficiaries could see significant new charge out-of-pocket for home health visits if Congress follows a recommendation made Thursday by its own advisory committee.
Until now, home health visits by nurses and other providers were free to patients. But the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission says a share is necessary to discourage overuse of a service whose cost to taxpayers is almost 20 billion per year because of fears that fraudsters also benefit.
The committee did not prescribe an amount, but his staff suggested this load and 150 for a series of related visits. Medicare requires co-payments for many services; home health has therefore been the exception rather than the rule.
Defying opposition by AARP, the seniors lobby, the committee appointed Congress voted 13-1 to recommend that the legislature impose the new fee. Two commissioners abstained and one was absent.
“In extreme cases, this advantage can turn into a support system for long-term social care,” said Commission Chairman Glenn Hackbarth. “A modest co-payment is a tool to help solve this problem.”
The advice comes as lawmakers face a difficult budget year. A slowing economy and tax cuts are draining revenues while the deficit amounted to ranges widely regarded as unsustainable. Republicans took control of the House on a promise to cut spending, but there is little hope that if Congress and the president can agree on ways to limit costs of health care.
Over 3 million elderly and disabled people using the services of Medicare home health – nursing visits, personal care workers and therapists available to those who can not easily out of the house.
Home Health was once considered a cost saver, because it is clearly cheaper than admitting patients to hospital. But it has been reported as a budget problem because of rapidly rising costs and big differences in how communities across the country using the service.
Part of the problem seems to be widespread fraud. In some counties of home health admissions exceeds the number of residents on Medicare.
Several commissioners expressed concern about the impact of a new burden on older people with modest incomes. Numerous studies have shown that even small allocations may discourage patients from receiving medical services.
The levy will be collected for each admission home health agency, not for each visit by a nurse or a supplier. Patients may be under the care of home health for several weeks at a time.
The recommendation exempts low-income patients, whose shares would be covered by Medicaid, as well as those just discharged from hospital. More than 30 million beneficiaries in traditional Medicare would be directly subject to tax. Implications for the elderly in private Medicare Advantage plans are uncertain.
The commission was created by Congress to provide impartial expert advice on complex issues of health insurance benefits and financing. It is also known as MedPAC.
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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