John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Cutting Home Health Care

Posted on December 5, 2009

Cutting Home Health Care




My brother Brian did a courageous thing several years ago.  He didn’t like selling insurance and decided to change his career path.  He went back to school and got a degree in Nursing, which fits his personality much better than selling insurance.  He is good with people, he doesn’t mind blood, and he has a scientific mind.

The good thing about going into nursing is that people are always getting sick, and people need nurses to get them better.  Brian has focused on home health care, because he likes getting out and about, and he likes helping people.  It is not an easy profession, and I am sure he sees some things that I wouldn’t ever want to see.

The nurses who are doing home health care are doing the Lord’s work.  They are the lifeline to many senior citizens who need the home health care nurses to keep them alive.  And without home health care nurses, most of those folks would either be forced into nursing homes or hospitals.

I say all of this because one of the things that the Democrats are in their vaunted health care plan is cutting home health care to the bone. According to a story in the New York Times today, both the House and Senate plans are targeting home health care.  In the story, Home Care Patients Worry Over Possible Cuts (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/05/health/policy/05home.html?_r=1&hp), here is what the author says:  “The legislation would reduce Medicare spending on home health services, a lifeline for homebound Medicare beneficiaries, which keeps them out of hospitals and nursing homes.

Under the bills, more than 30 million Americans would gain health coverage. The cost would be offset by new taxes and fees and by cutbacks in Medicare payments to health care providers.

The impact of the legislation on Medicare beneficiaries has been a pervasive theme in the first week of Senate debate, which is scheduled to continue through the weekend.

Home care shows, in microcosm, a conundrum at the heart of the health care debate. Lawmakers have decided that most of the money to cover the uninsured should come from the health care system itself. This raises the question: Can health care providers reduce costs without slashing services?  Under the legislation, home care would absorb a disproportionate share of the cuts. It currently accounts for 3.7 percent of the Medicare budget, but would absorb 10.2 percent of the savings squeezed from Medicare by the House bill and 9.4 percent of savings in the Senate bill, the Congressional Budget Office says.”



This seems like a really stupid idea to me.  What are these guys thinking?