The American Association for Homecare urges the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction not to include any additional budgetary spending cuts that will restrict access to home medical equipment and services in its recommendations to Congress. Over the years, homecare has broadened health care access for millions of Americans, while also producing cost-savings in the health care system by keeping seniors and people with disabilities out of costly hospitals and nursing homes.
“While we support the Committee’s efforts to reduce the deficit and contain rising health care costs, homecare is part of the solution, it’s not the problem,” said Tyler J. Wilson, president of the American Association for Homecare. “Homecare is a well-recognized form of cost-effective, post-acute and long-term care that has proven to reduce costs across the health care system.”
“Any additional cuts to the homecare sector will severely restrict access for the eight million seniors and people living with chronic conditions and disabilities who depend on care and services at home,” Wilson said. Over the past decade, home medical equipment and services have endured a series of deep, disproportionate budgetary cuts. Recently, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission voted to repeal the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula and partially offset the estimated $200 billion 10-year cost of the repeal through steep, disproportionate cuts to durable medical equipment reimbursements.
Durable medical equipment is a shrinking line in Medicare’s budget, representing less than less than 1.5 percent of total Medicare spending. Home medical equipment and services provide a cost-effective alternative to institutional care for both patients and the health care system. For instance, a full year of oxygen therapy at home under Medicare costs roughly $2,400 a year. Yet without access to the proper services and equipment, a home oxygen patient suffering an exacerbation of COPD can cost Medicare more than $5,000 per day in hospital expenses.