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Home Health Leaders Commend Congressman Greg Walden for Highlighting Value of Medicare Home Health Benefit for Oregon Seniors

Congressman Walden today met with home health representatives to discuss negative impacts of 14 percent Medicare home health cut under the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare – a coalition of home health providers dedicated to improving the integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare for our nation's seniors – today thanked Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR-2) for calling attention to harmful cuts to the Medicare home health benefit, which threaten access to cost-effective, clinically-advanced and patient preferred care for Oregon seniors.

In November 2013, the Obama Administration announced cuts to Medicare home health payments of 3.5 percent annually for four years – the maximum allowable under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – thereby imposing an unprecedented total cut of 14 percent.  The Obama Administration has conceded that these deep cuts will leave 'approximately 40 percent of providers' with negative margins by 2017 once the full cut takes effect.

In Oregon, estimates indicate that 72 percent of the state's home health agencies will be operating at a loss when these cuts take full effect, which could result in agency closures and consolidations, particularly among the state's small, independent providers.  Across the state, these most recent Medicare cuts will directly impact 15,659 vulnerable seniors and nearly 3,000 home health jobs.

"Congressman Walden has been a true champion for the home health community and we continue to be grateful for his support, particularly his efforts to prevent the ACA cuts to home health that directly harm the nation's most vulnerable seniors and disabled individuals," said Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership.  "Today's events in southern Oregon are just the most recent example of the Congressman's commitment to protecting the Medicare home health benefit to ensure that Oregon seniors have access to quality care in the low-cost setting they prefer and valuable jobs are protected."

In September, Congressman Walden joined approximately 200 bipartisan members of Congress in urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to more carefully evaluate the impact of the proposed cuts.  The lawmakers expressed that the [proposed] cuts would, "have a direct impact on access for millions of seniors, many of whom reside in rural and underserved communities. A significant amount of this care in rural and underserved areas is provided by thousands of small businesses that would be most at risk of going out of business under the proposed rule."
 He has also spoken out in support of home health services on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and warned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that home health rebasing cuts would have a negative impact on home health services when she testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last October.

The Medicare home health benefit is widely recognized as clinically advanced, cost-effective and patient preferred.  Across Oregon, 21,161 Medicare beneficiaries receive skilled home health services from 3,874 clinicians and home health professionals employed by 56 home health agencies.  Every county in Oregon's 2nd district is served by a home health agency.

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare was established to assist government officials in ensuring access to skilled home healthcare services for seniors and disabled Americans. Representing community- and hospital-based home healthcare agencies across the United States, the Partnership is dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the quality, efficiency and integrity of home healthcare. To learn more, visit www.homehealth4america.org. To join the home healthcare policy conversation, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog

SOURCE Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare

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