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Republican and Democratic Voters View Home Care as a Solution to Rising Medicare Spending, Harris Survey Finds
Date:8/19/2008

Four Out of Five Voters Favor Stronger Coverage for Wheelchairs, Oxygen, and Other Home Medical Equipment and Services

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nearly three out of four (74 percent) American voters agree that, "home care is part of the solution to the problem of rapidly increasing Medicare spending for America's seniors." Voters age 55-plus are even more likely to agree (81 percent).

A national telephone survey of 1,000 American adults conducted by Harris Interactive found that strong majorities of both Democrats and Republicans (76 percent each) support home care as a key step toward curbing Medicare spending. The survey was commissioned by the American Association for Homecare and was conducted by Harris Interactive, which conducts The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls.

Both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain and have identified Medicare as a federal program that needs to be more cost-effective. Sen. McCain noted earlier this year that health programs should provide "incentives for home healthcare as opposed to long-term care."

Approximately eight million Americans require some type of medical care in their home, which reduces the length of hospital stays and keeps many Americans out of hospitals and nursing homes.

"Home care is cost-effective and it provides independence for seniors and people with disabilities," said Tyler J. Wilson, president of the American Association for Homecare. "Spending on home medical equipment and services represents less than two percent of the Medicare budget, and it's the slowest-growing sector of Medicare."

Wilson called on Washington policymakers to preserve consumers' option of receiving home-based care through the following steps:

-- Strengthen the nation's infrastructure for providing home medical equipment and services rather than arbitrarily reducing the number of accredited providers in Medicare. The Harris survey found that nearly three-quarters of voters (72 percent) oppose laws that reduce the number of home medical equipment providers allowed to participate in Medicare.

-- Take more effective actions to prevent fraud in the Medicare program by keeping criminals out of the Medicare program at the front-end of the process rather than pursuing fraud through the traditional "pay and chase" method.

-- Tie reimbursements for home medical equipment and services to the unique nature of providing medical equipment and services to the population that depends on them. This care requires a high level of service, including after-hours and 24-hour emergency services. Also, the cost of delivery has increased with rising fuel costs, especially in rural areas.

Older Americans Are More Likely to Support Home Care-Friendly Candidates

According to the Harris survey, Americans age 55 and older are more likely (83 percent) to favor political candidates who support homecare, compared to the 18-to-54 age group (76 percent). Approximately 69 million Americans are 55 or older. The AARP has dubbed the 2008 election as "the 50-plus election," estimating that voters age 50-plus will turn out in even greater numbers than the 52 percent reported by exit polls during the 2006 elections.

Home Is Where People Prefer to Receive Health Care

More than four out of five Americans (82 percent) surveyed by Harris express a preference for home care over institutional care, agreeing with the statement, "If I required medical services, I would prefer to receive it in my home if possible, rather than in a hospital or nursing home." Only nine percent disagree with the statement and nine percent are neutral. Preference for home care is most common among Americans age 55 and older (91 percent). The strong preference for home care is consistent across all age-group, gender, and income segments.

Majority Favor Stronger Coverage for Home Medical Equipment and Services

An overwhelming majority (78 percent) of American voters say they would vote for congressional candidates who would strengthen Medicare coverage for power wheelchairs, oxygen devices, hospital beds, and other durable medical equipment and services used in the home.

Harris Interactive surveyed 1,000 Americans age 18 and older between December 14 and 17, 2007. For more detail, see http://www.aahomecare.org.

Contact: Michael Reinemer, 703-535-1881, michaelr@aahomecare.org; Tilly Gambill, 703-535-1896, tillyg@aahomecare.org

The American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) represents providers of durable medical equipment and related services and supplies. AAHomecare members serve the medical needs of millions of Americans who require home oxygen therapy, wheelchairs and other mobility products, hospital beds, medical supplies, inhalation drug therapy, and other medical equipment and services delivered in the patient's home. AAHomecare's provider members operate more than 3,000 home care locations in all 50 states. See http://www.aahomecare.org.

Harris Interactive is the 13th largest and one of the fastest growing market research firms in the world. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its North American, European and Asian offices, and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at http://www.harrisinteractive.com.


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SOURCE American Association for Homecare
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