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New Jobs Report Confirms Medicare Cuts Leading to Job Loss in Home Health Sector

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2014
Contact: Ellen Almond
703-548-0019

New Jobs Report Confirms Medicare Cuts Leading to Job Loss in Home Health Sector

Home health sector loses 3,700 jobs in preparation for unprecedented 14 percent cut to Medicare home health imposed by the Obama Administration on January 1

Washington, DC – The December Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report finds that 3,700 home health jobs were lost last month. Home health leaders warn that these cuts are the first in what is feared will be a wave of job loss resulting from severe Medicare home health cuts made in the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) Final Rule last November to help pay for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In addition to reducing needed jobs for home health professionals, these severe cuts will directly impact millions of the homebound seniors and disabled Americans by limiting their access to the clinically advanced, cost effective home healthcare they need and prefer.

The Final Rule cuts Medicare home health payments by 3.5 percent annually for four years – the maximum allowable under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – thereby imposing an unprecedented total cut of 14 percent. The Obama Administration has conceded that these deep cuts will leave ‘approximately 40 percent of providers’ with negative margins by 2017 once the full cut takes effect. Home health agencies operating at a loss may be forced to reduce staff, limit patient services, file bankruptcy or close their doors completely.

“The new jobs report confirms what seniors, caregivers, AARP and so many others have been concerned about – that this deep 14 percent cut will negatively impact millions of American seniors, their families and needed healthcare jobs,” said Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “In fact, nearly 500,000 hard working Americans are employed and nearly 1.5 million homebound seniors are served by the ‘approximately 40 percent’ of all home health agencies that the Administration has admitted will operate at a loss as a result of this cut.”

The Partnership is urging the Administration to reexamine the ACA cut and preserve the ability of homebound seniors to receive clinically effective healthcare in the comfort, dignity and safety of their own homes. The nation’s home health community has asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct the detailed analyses required by law and to use her authority under Section 1871 of the Social Security Act to moderate the rebasing cut to protect seniors’ access to home health and hundreds of thousands of valuable American jobs.

The Medicare home health benefit is widely recognized as clinically advanced, cost-effective and patient preferred. Medicare home health services are delivered to approximately 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries, who are documented as being poorer, older, sicker, and more likely from a minority population than other Medicare beneficiaries.

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