In Texas, 366,000 seniors and the disabled depend on the Medicare home health benefit.

It allows them to receive the clinically effective and cost-efficient acute, chronic or rehabilitative care they need at home — where they prefer it.

Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing a reimbursement reduction of 14 percent, which will result in more than $15 billion in Medicare home health funding cuts over the next 10 years in the state of Texas. This proposed regulation threatens the future of Medicare home health services and, if finalized as is, would create negative effects for seniors as well as home health professionals.

The home health benefit allows clinicians to provide skilled nursing care and complex therapies in the comfort of a patient’s home at a fraction of the cost of other post-acute care settings. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a recent poll of more than 4,500 registered voters found that nearly nine out of 10 seniors oppose more cuts to Medicare payments for home health care.

Home health care is also responsible for a significant number of jobs in the state. AccentCare alone employs 9,632 Texans. This proposed unprecedented funding reduction would lead to a negative Medicare home health margin.

More than 75 percent of our state’s home health agencies would be operating with Medicare margins at or below zero percent. This will surely lead to business closures and significant job loss within the state’s home health industry.

I’m worried that ill-conceived decisions in Washington stand to impact the lives and health of American seniors and those who provide their care. Let Congress and CMMS know that we expect more from them and our tax dollars.

Steve Rodgers is CEO of Texas Home Health Home Care & Hospice, an AccentCare company.

Published by The San Antonio Express-News