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Save Home Health: Raleigh Home Health Community Rallies Against New Medicare Cuts to Home Healthcare

- Speaker Thom Tillis joins NC home health representatives in speaking out on harmful impact new Medicare cuts will have on vulnerable seniors and much-needed healthcare jobs -

RALEIGH, N.C., Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 150 representatives of the home health community – including Raleigh area clinicians, family members and advocates as well as national leaders – took part in a rally with special guest North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis to speak out against unprecedented Medicare cuts of 14 percent to home health services that went into effect on January 1 as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare.  Home health representatives expressed grave concern that such deep cuts are already negatively impacting patient access to skilled home health services and healthcare jobs across the state.

In a regulation issued late last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cut the Medicare home health benefit by 3.5 percent annually over the next four years (2014-2017) – the maximum cut allowed under the ACA.  The Obamacare cut – called "rebasing" – will amount to an unprecedented total cut of 14 percent.  As a result, CMS has projected that a full 40 percent of home health agencies nationwide will face net losses, which home health representatives have warned will lead to jobs loss, small business bankruptcy and closures, and – worst of all – barriers to care for vulnerable, homebound patients.

Nationally, data show that a cut of this magnitude could result in loss of access to home health for 1.5 million Medicare seniors and disabled and jobs loss for nearly half a million American workers.  Data released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics already reports that home health jobs declined in the month of December at a higher rate than they had in a decade, as home health providers prepared for the January 1 cut.

"Obamacare cuts targeting Medicare home health threaten our state's oldest and sickest seniors, reduce healthcare quality, increase healthcare costs, and cause job losses," stated North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg).  "Home healthcare is a proven low-cost solution that keeps patients healthier, prevents expensive facility stays, and improves patient quality of life.  That is why Obamacare's Medicare cuts are wrong for our seniors, they are wrong for our State, and they must be stopped.  I applaud the efforts of the Save Home Health community and proudly join them in calling on the President to right this wrong."

Across North Carolina, these cuts stand to leave nearly 50 home health agencies operating at a net loss by the time these cuts fully take effect – jeopardizing access to care for nearly 30,000 home health patients and job security for more than 11,300 home health professionals statewide.

"As a clinician who has worked in home health for 28 years, I feel passionately that cutting Medicare for home health by 14 percent is the wrong approach to take if the end goal is to reduce healthcare costs to our nation," said Paula Shoemaker, a home health advocate and moderator of today's Save Home Health rally. "These rebasing cuts risk leaving homebound seniors without access to essential care, thereby forcing seniors to rely on far more expensive care alternatives such as Emergency Rooms and hospitals, which will actually increase healthcare spending in the long run."

Home health advocates further stressed the value of home health within the Medicare program.  Studies show that home healthcare represents the most cost-effective care setting for seniors. "Based on this fact alone, we should be securing seniors' access to home healthcare, not endangering it," Shoemaker added.

Home healthcare is regarded as providing clinically advanced solutions to some of the healthcare system's most challenging dilemmas, including chronic care management and post-acute care.  Home health allows patients to age with safety and dignity in a setting older Americans overwhelmingly prefer.

To learn more, please visit http://savehomehealth.org.

SOURCE Save Home Health

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