Senior Groups Comment on President’s FY2017 Budget
Express Concerns about Proposed Medicare Cuts, Home Health Copay
March 8, 2016 10:33 AM
In a letter dated March 1, 2016, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) sent comments to Congress on the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget proposal. LCAO expressed concerns about proposals in the President’s FY2017 budget to create a home health copay and cut Medicare by over $400 billion over 10 years. The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) analyzed the proposals in the President’s FY2017 budget affecting home care and hospice in previous NAHC Reportcoverage available here and here.
NAHC is a member of LCAO, a 72-member coalition of the nation’s non-profit organizations serving older Americans. LCAO is dedicated to preserving and strengthening the well-being of America’s older population and provides a voice for seniors and their families in the ongoing debate on aging policy.
“Compared with the 46 million seniors today, by 2030, 70 million people – 1 in 5 Americans – will be 65 or older. Many older Americans face economic and health challenges,” LCAO stated in its comments. “Currently, nearly 90 percent of seniors have at least one chronic condition, 4.2 million adults over the age of 65 live in poverty and nearly one in six seniors struggle with hunger. Decades of stagnant wages and the erosion of employer-sponsored retirement benefits and savings are grinding away at the economic security of millions of seniors. Given these demographic and economic realities, we urge you to ensure that the FY 2017 congressional budget resolution strengthens the financial and health security of older adults and to reject proposals that would increase costs or reduce benefits and services for current and future generations of older Americans.”
Following are comments included in the LCAO letter regarding some of the issues in the President’s FY2017 budget affecting NAHC members.
Implementing a Co-Payment for Home-Health Care
Starting in 2020, this proposal would create a home health co-payment of $100 per 60-day home health episode, applicable for episodes with five or more visits not preceded by a hospital or other inpatient post-acute care stay. We oppose this proposal. It will create a barrier to home-and-community based services, encourage hospitalization and decrease home care for people with long-term and chronic conditions. Further, the cost-savings are minimal.
Various Payment Proposals
While LCAO supports paying providers accurately for high-quality services, LCAO is concerned about how access to care might be negatively impacted by several proposals aimed at delivery system and payment reforms. One proposal focuses on Value-Based Purchasing for home health agencies and other providers. LCAO stated that Value-Based Purchasing demonstrations “did not find improved quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries or reduced Medicare costs.”
The FY 2017 Budget includes a number of Medicare legislative proposals that would reduce net Medicare spending by $419.4 billion over 10 years. Unfortunately, approximately $56.4 billion of the total would be saved by implementing “structural reforms” that would shift additional costs directly onto Medicare beneficiaries. LCAO continues to oppose these proposals. It is significant to note that in 2014, half of all people with Medicare lived on incomes less than $24,150 per year – just above 200% of the federal poverty level, and one quarter of Medicare beneficiaries had annual incomes at or below $14,350.
The LCAO letter expressed support for Medicaid proposals in the budget to expand and improve home- and community-based care.
The full LCAO letter is available here.