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Home Health Community Thanks Congressman Greg Walden for Calling Attention to "Devastating Effect" of Obamacare's Medicare Home Health Funding Cuts

Congressman Walden issues letter to colleagues in Congress stressing negative consequences of deep Medicare home health cuts on seniors' access to care and home healthcare jobs

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare – a leading 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 issuing a letter to his colleagues in the U.S. Congress calling attention to the "devastating effect" deep funding cuts to the Medicare home health benefit are having on the program's most vulnerable beneficiaries and on small businesses and jobs across America.

As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), funding for the Medicare home health benefit was cut by an unprecedented 14 percent cut over four years (2014-2017) - the maximum allowable by law.  Such a deep funding cut, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will drive "approximately 40 percent" of providers to net losses by 2017.  Avalere Health's analysis of the ACA cut reveals that nearly two-thirds (72%) of Oregon's home health agencies will suffer net operating losses by 2017.

Recent analyses, as pointed out by Congressman Walden, demonstrate that every state will experience job loss and business closures and consolidations due to the rebasing cut. As a result, the Medicare program's most vulnerable patients could lose access to quality skilled home healthcare.

"Congressman Walden has long been a steadfast advocate for seniors' access to quality home healthcare services.  He has strongly opposed funding cuts that threaten seniors, rural communities, and hardworking home healthcare professionals, and we applaud him for his compassion and leadership," said Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "In the Congressman's home state of Oregon, more than 15,000 homebound seniors and nearly 3,000 home healthcare professionals are directly impacted by the ACA cut, demonstrating the critical need for relief to protect these vulnerable patients and healthcare jobs."

In the month of February alone, the home health community lost 3,800 jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest cut seen in home health in more than a decade.  Since this job loss occurred in just the second of the 48 months in which the Obamacare cut is being implemented, home health leaders are warning that – unless corrected – the Obamacare cut will cause thousands of additional jobs to be lost.

"Thanks to Congressman Walden and other lawmakers' leadership, Congress is recognizing the devastating effect this cut is having on seniors nationwide.  We applaud them for considering much-needed relief to the Medicare program's frailest patients and home healthcare professionals across our nation," added Berger.

Across Oregon, 21,161 seniors receive the Medicare home health benefit, which is widely recognized as clinically advanced, cost effective and patient preferred.

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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