House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Holds Hearing on Medicare Benefit Redesign

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health recently held a hearing that looked at ways to redesign the Medicare benefit. The hearing’s witnesses were: Katherine Baicker, Ph.D.Professor, Health Economics, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health; Thomas P. Miller, J.D., Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and; Patricia Neuman, ScD., M.S., Senior Vice President, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The National Association of Home Care & Hospice submitted testimony for the hearing, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to preserving the Medicare benefit without placing more financial responsibility on the backs of the program’s beneficiaries – particularly through the misguided idea to reintroduce the Medicare home health copayment.

Much of the hearing focused on how to redesign the Medicare benefit – with ideas ranging from combined deductibles for Medicare Parts A and B and modifications to first dollar coverage for Medigap policies; to value-based cost-sharing proposals and improved coordination of care. Many of the Subcommittee members themselves agreed with the witnesses that while Medicare needs to be reformed, it should not be done if the beneficiaries themselves need to shoulder the burden of additional out of pocket costs.

Dr. Patricia Neuman addressed home health care specifically. During the Q&A portion of the hearing, she mentioned delivery method reforms that are being tested for an older and more vulnerable population, specifically the Independence at Home Demonstration. The Demonstration, “where physicians and teams of professionals come into the home with the idea of engaging the patient and family members to prevent patients from going to the hospital or needing to go to the emergency room and they employ technology in the home…to provide care in the most appropriate setting which in this case is also the lowest cost setting and what patients and their families prefer.”

The Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing comes shortly after the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee asked key stakeholders – including NAHC – to offer their ideas for post-acute payment reform within the Medicare benefit.

To read NAHC’s testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, please click here.

To urge your lawmakers to oppose Medicare home health copays and payment cuts, please click here.

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