Opinion

Congress’ New Healthcare Agenda

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama made very little mention of healthcare or the effects of his Administration’s sweeping healthcare reform law.  While the Administration has seemingly shifted its focus away from healthcare, many lawmakers in the new Congress have not.

In just the first few weeks of the 114th Congress, we have seen significant attention from lawmakers on legislation to remedy some provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that a majority in Congress feels need immediate attention – and correction.

Likewise, the home health community and a growing body of supportive lawmakers in Congress are prioritizing Medicare reforms that provide a more sustainable approach to spending cuts than the unprecedented 14 percent “rebasing” cut to Medicare’s home health benefit made in the ACA.

The Securing Access Via Excellence (SAVE) Medicare Home Health Act, introduced last Congress (as H.R. 5110) by Congressmen Greg Walden (Or.) and Tom Price (Ga.), offers a favorable alternative to the harmful, across-the-board home health cut made in the ACA by repealing and replacing it with thoughtful hospital readmission and value-based purchasing reforms.

It is anticipated that this bill will garner strong bipartisan support because this legislation’s approach better serves seniors and taxpayers alike by significantly reducing healthcare spending without jeopardizing patient access to skilled home healthcare.

While repealing the ACA’s Medicare home health rebasing cut remains a top priority among America’s home health leaders, excitement is also building about other legislative opportunities that lie ahead in 2015, including post-acute care bundling and program integrity reform.  Each of these solutions is notable because they will preserve and strengthen homebound seniors’ access to the cost effective, clinically advanced and patient preferred care they need.

The 114th Congress stands poised to set a bold new healthcare agenda for 2015.  By addressing Medicare home health reforms as they tackle important ACA issues, Congress will achieve solutions that preserve, rather than threaten, senior care in America.

 

Eric Berger is the CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, a coalition of the nation’s leading innovators of home healthcare dedicated to improving the integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare

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