Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Advancing Home Health Policies

Home health is being touted by policy makers as the most cost-effective solution to tackle the problem of increasing medical costs and hospitalizations.

At the recent National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) meeting, Sen. Harry Reid emphasized the importance of home health care as the answer to rising health expenses. He told about 400 attendees who included clinical professionals, health providers, industry consultants and manufacturers that they are part of a movement than can significantly cut costs for health.

As hospitals and nursing homes become over-utilized and require higher and higher costs, home health care is proving to be the most important solution for the aging population of baby boomers.  In the months and years to come, the need for home health care is expected to rise drastically. 

NAHC President Val Kilimandar is discussed a very important issue in the meeting: there has been a 14 percent decrease in Medicare reimbursements, despite the increasing demand for home care and the rising cost of its delivery. He called for the need to lobby representatives to address this problem. He promised attendees that the NAHC would continue to apply pressure on policy-makers to ensure that budget cuts do not continue and that the aging population could enjoy the benefits of home health care.

Most people in the meeting agreed that more investments need to be made in home and community-based care so that care providers can acquire technology that can improve the quality of care to patients. Financing continues to be a major issue, but baby boomers would rather receive care at home and not have to give up their freedom to nursing homes.

With the recent advancement of patient-centered care, there is a great shift from treatment to proactive monitoring and preventive care for the aging. Home health care is offered as the key solution to the demand for a high quality and patient-focused care.

Home care is also championed as a cheaper alternative to chronic disease management. According to NAHC, Medicare pays nearly $2,000 per day for a typical hospital stay while home care costs an average of $44 per day.

Rep. Greg Walden introduced the Home Care Planning and Improvement Act, or H.R.250. This bill will allow Medicare to pay for home health care provided by nurses working in partnership with physicians or a physician assistant under a physician’s supervision. At present, the bill is in the subcommittee on health and is still lined up to be brought to the floor. If the bill pushes through, the future will look bright for home health care, and baby boomers will be comforted with the option to have long-term access to quality home care.

Richard A. Kimball, Jr. is a financial executive with deep proficiency in the healthcare industry and has experience in various capacities e.g. investment banking, venture capital, research, distribution and public policy.  Richard is currently a Fellow in Stanford’s Distinguished Career Institute and building a healthcare technology start up HEXL.COM. Richard graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics.

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