The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of national organizations representing over 60 million older Americans, recently submitted written testimony to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health opposing the imposition of Medicare home health and hospice copayments. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice is a member of the LCAO.
The testimony was provided in connection with a Subcommittee hearing on proposals to redesign the Medicare benefit structure, including the Simpson-Bowles Commission plan that would combine Parts A and B and impose a uniform coinsurance rate of 20 percent on all Medicare services. The LCAO strongly opposes this uniform copay proposal because it would, in effect, require beneficiaries to pay an average copayment of $600 to access a 60 day episode of home health care. For hospice, beneficiaries would pay an estimated $2,000 for a typical stay on hospice.
The testimony makes the point that most Medicare beneficiaries have low or moderate incomes, and cannot afford to pay more for their health care. According to the testimony, increased cost sharing is an inappropriate tool to limit unnecessary use of health services, and limits access to necessary care. It cites research that demonstrates that increased cost sharing for health services leads individuals to forgo needed health care services in the short-term, resulting in worsening health, the need for more intensive care and higher costs to the Medicare program in the long-term.