Home Healthcare Community Praises Senate Aging Committee for Exploring Ways to Reduce Long-Term Care Spending

April 20, 2012
Contact: Emily White

Home Healthcare Community Praises Senate Aging Committee for Exploring Ways to Reduce Long-Term Care Spending

Clinically advanced, cost-effective, patient preferred home healthcare has critical role in reducing overall healthcare spending for Americaā€™s aging population

WASHINGTON, DC — Leaders in the home healthcare community are calling this week's Senate Aging Committee hearing a positive step toward improving the efficiency and delivery of long-term care services for America's aging population. In examining how long term-care is delivered and funded in America today, lawmakers and community leaders were informed of the valuable role skilled home healthcare can play in improving patient care and significantly reducing healthcare costs.

At a hearing this week, "The Future of Long-Term Care: Saving Money by Serving Seniors,"¯ lawmakers heard testimony from expert witnesses and thought leaders on how the nation can better provide and finance long-term care services for America's aging population. Hearing testimony included recommendations for better utilizing community-based and skilled home healthcare services in place of institutional care, when clinically appropriate, to decrease healthcare spending and improve care delivery.

"Both Medicare and Medicaid do not make adequate use of lower cost settings to provide care,"¯ stated Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a hearing witness and former Director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). "Generally home health is less expensive and preferred by patients; however we continue to spend billions on institutional care."¯

Skilled home healthcare is both clinically advanced and cost-effective. Home healthcare allows patients to receive a variety of care services at home, including cardiac and pulmonary care, neurological rehabilitation, intravenous therapy and chronic disease management, among others. Further, analyses of government data indicate that home healthcare is significantly less expensive than care provided in traditional settings.

A new study analyzing Medicare claims data from Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, LLC finds that, on average, Medicare spends less when home healthcare is used as the first setting for post acute-care. The Medicare data show that episode payments for home healthcare costs are consistently lower than those in other settings. While nearly 40 percent of all Medicare post-acute care episodes use home healthcare, these episodes represent only 27.8 percent of post-acute care spending.

"Every 13 seconds in America, another individual turns 65 years old and becomes eligible for Medicare benefits. We must be prepared to adequately care for this incredible influx of seniors in a cost-effective way - and skilled home healthcare is a key part of the answer,"¯ stated Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

Research shows that 89 percent of American seniors prefer to age in place, stay home and remain independent. Nationwide, approximately 3.4 million Medicare beneficiaries receive skilled home healthcare services to treat illnesses related to acute, chronic or rehabilitative needs.

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