HCAF Makes Capitol Hill Visits to Discuss Potential Medicare Cuts, Copays

HCAF representatives with Senator Nelson

HCAF staff with Sen. Nelson

HCAF representatives met yesterday with key lawmakers in Congress – including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson – to discuss the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which has implications for the home health care industry. As HCAF discussed at the recent district meeting series, Congress is faced with a two-percent cut to all federal programs, including Medicare home health provider payments, the end of the Bush-era tax cuts as well as having to address the federal debt ceiling – all by the end of the year. Congress is considering multiple ways to address the fiscal cliff, including additional cuts to home care and the imposition of a Medicare home health copayment. Copay figures have ranged from $100 to $600 per 60-day episode.

In addition to the fiscal cliff crisis, Congress is also tasked with addressing the 27 percent cut for Medicare physicians unless lawmakers agree to a delay by cutting other programs. The physician cut is expected to go into effect in January. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice recently learned that the American Medical Association is floating the concept of a home health copay to Congress to avoid the physician reimbursement cut. From our interaction with several legislative staffers that message and proposal is not being well received, which is very good news for our industry. 

HCAF Executive Director Bobby Lolley, Deputy Director Monica Smith and Government Affairs Director Kyle Simon met with lawmakers and staff for 10 key lawmakers who serve on committees with jurisdiction over federal spending and Medicare. Lawmakers and staff noted that discussions about how to avoid going over the fiscal cliff have mostly been between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and that a deal is likely to be made by Christmastime. HCAF urged Florida’s congressional delegation to avoid further Medicare provider cuts – the industry has faced approximately 25 percent in cuts since 2009 – and to oppose any home health copay, which would negatively impact access and be an unbearable burden on the sickest seniors.

While we met with lawmakers, Florida home care industry professionals were encouraged to take part in our Virtual Advocacy Day by sending emails to representatives and senators. For those who sent emails, your efforts supplemented ours by letting Congress know that constituents and business owners and professionals have a stake in their decision. In total, 825 emails were sent to the 27 members of Congress, and your voices made our job so much easier!

HCAF will continue to closely monitor the fiscal cliff deliberations and the impact on the Medicare home health care industry. Stay tuned for more updates. In the meantime, click here to take action on home health copays and additional cuts by contacting Congress today!

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