From: The Honorable Greg Walden
Sent By:
katie.troller@mail.house.gov
Date: 3/6/2014

March 6, 2014

Dear Colleague:

Recently, the House has been highlighting the impacts federal regulations have on the lives of Americans.  In keeping with this theme, I wanted you to be aware of the startling effect that one particular regulation is having on seniors and businesses in your state.

Section 3131 of Obamacare called for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “rebase” Medicare payments for home healthcare services over a four-year period.  The healthcare law gave HHS the latitude to cut home health payments by up to 3.5% per year for four years, for a total of a 14% cut.

In November 2013, HHS finalized regulations that will take the maximum cut legally allowed- 3.5% per year for four years, starting on January 1, 2014.  This cut is devastating for the home health industry.  In fact, HHS admitted in the final rule that the cuts will force “40 percent” of all providers to operate on negative margins.  As a result, home health agencies across the country will face bankruptcies and job losses.  Even more, patients will lose access to these invaluable services.

Attached is state-by-state data on the impact of the 14% cut.  As you can see, home healthcare providers in every state will operate at a loss.

During the rulemaking, over 140 of our colleagues in the House, stakeholders, seniors, and the Small Business Administration expressed concern to HHS that the proposed cut would threaten patient access and small business operations.  The final rule didn’t address these concerns and sadly, we are already starting to see the crippling impact of this cut.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ December 2013 jobs report, over 3,700 home health jobs were lost in the month of December.  This is the largest recorded loss of jobs experienced by the nation’s home health community in more than a decade.  These jobs were lost in apparent anticipation of the unprecedented 14% cut to Medicare home health going into effect on January 1.  Avalere Health estimates if the 14% cut is not corrected, 500,000 home healthcare jobs will be lost and nearly 1.5 million seniors will lose access to receiving high-quality, cost-efficient health care services in the setting they prefer – their home.

My family and I have seen first-hand the powerful impact that compassionate and highly skilled home health nurses provide.  We’ve used it with our own loved ones and know how meaningful it is to be able to recover at home, in familiar surroundings, with your family by your side.  Take a look at the numbers and see the devastating effect these cuts would have on seniors in your state and throughout America.

 

Best regards,

Greg Walden

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