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Congress Must Recognize Homecare as Cost-Effective Part of Health Care Reform
Date:7/20/2009

Statement by Tyler Wilson, President and CEO, the American Association for Homecare

ARLINGTON, Va., July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In their effort to find savings in the healthcare system, the Obama administration and Members of Congress have been eyeing Medicare's home medical equipment (HME) sector for cuts. This sector provides medical oxygen, respiratory therapy, hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers and other equipment and services that allow people to get the care they need at home instead of in a hospital or nursing home.

Already in 2009, Medicare payments for the most commonly prescribed home medical equipment categories have been cut by 9.5 percent. Medical oxygen reimbursement has been cut by 27 percent so far this year. Another measure aimed at cutting HME costs further is so-called "competitive" bidding.

"The American Association for Homecare urges Congress to recognize that home care is a cost-effective alternative to more expensive forms of care, and should therefore be a critical component -- not a casualty -- of American health care reform. Current and proposed cuts to Medicare's home medical equipment sector are not an effective way to reduce overall Medicare spending. These cuts are likely to increase Medicare costs over time by forcing more seniors into nursing homes and hospitals, blocking preventative care, and causing more frequent visits to emergency rooms.

"Quality home medical equipment and services facilitate hospital discharges, reduce hospital readmissions and emergency room visits, and help to keep seniors and people with disabilities out of more expensive institutional settings. As Congress debates health care reforms, it is important that it keeps these facts in mind and recognizes home care as a partner in improving the quality of American health care and reducing overall health care costs.
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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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