The American Association for Homecare hosted a Washington D.C. roundtable on Tuesday that included former Senate Majority Leader and onetime HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle in order to stress the importance of homecare to members of the consumer news media and Congressional staff.
In addition to Daschle, the panel included Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.); Peter Thomas, co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Health Task Force; Georige Blackburn, vice president of government relations for Tarntum, Pa. HME provider BLACKBURN’S; and AAHomecare President Tyler Wilson, who moderated the panel.
Daschle noted that instances of homecare savings, such as the $7 daily cost to Medicare for home oxygen therapy versus the more than $5,000 price tag for a day’s stay at a hospital “shows clearly how much of a panacea home healthcare can be.”
“We can provide low-cost, good quality access in part through home healthcare,” Daschle said. “Home health is by far the most effective way to start producing that good wellness promotion and primary care …
“My mother’s quality of life is a hundred times better given the fact that she can live at home rather than be institutionalized at 86 … ,” Dashle added. “Her quality of life is proof positive that we can help improve quality, lower costs, and provide greater access if we put the emphasis where it belongs — at the base of the pyramid with good home healthcare.”
Thomas spoke on behalf of patients’ opposition to CMS’s NCB program because it would limit their healthcare choices, and undermine the relationships they have developed with their current HME providers.
“Those relationships get fractured under competitive bidding,” he said. “We’re very concerned that service is going to go out the window, that quality is going to decrease, and that patient choice is going to become compromised. There are other ways to get at overpayment in the DMEPOS fee schedule. We think that competitive bidding is not the way to do it.”
Blackburn echoed these concerns: “We have fought tooth and nail against competitive bidding as a winner because we just feel this is poor health policy,” she said. “And the patients we have served since 1936 as an independent provider … the types of care we give to them cannot be done under competitive bidding.”