Congress Repealed the Medicare Home Health Copayment Because It Increased Costs. So Why Are They Considering It Again?

In 1972, Congress passed an amendment repealing a 20-percent copayment to beneficiaries who received home healthcare under Part B citing copayments as “a financial burden to many elderly persons living on marginal incomes.”  The coinsurance requirement lead to increased hospital costs and was found to discriminate against patients.

Similarly, our nation’s 3.5 million Medicare home healthcare beneficiaries are today facing the prospect of a copayment on home health services, most recently proposed in the Obama Administration’s FY2014 budget plan. Despite evidence that copays actually increase Medicare costs by forcing patients to seek care in costlier institutional settings, some lawmakers are looking at instituting increased fees on seniors in need of home health as a means for generating federal cost savings.

A recent Forbes column details some of the myriad reasons a home health copay is bad policy and why lawmakers should instead look for Medicare savings by targeting federal dollars lost to fraud and abuse.

The Partnership strongly opposes the reimposition of a beneficiary copayment in the Medicare home health benefit.  Instead, it is encouraging Congress to advance targeted reforms that do not harm innocent seniors.