The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing to cut Medicare home health funding by 3.5% each year from 2014 to 2017. Former Louisiana U.S. Congressman Billy Tauzin, who's part of the Senior Council at the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, says that would be catastrophic.

He says it would threaten seniors' and disabled individuals' access to the clinically-advanced and cost-effective home-based care that's medically necessary for homebound patients.

"The effect, literally, will be to put every state's home health agencies out of business," Tauzin says. "Which means it seems we're going to lose access to this critical form of healthcare. The skilled nurses provide care for them in their homes, instead of putting them in hospitals or institutions."

Tauzin says if the Obama administration doesn't keep this from going into effect, agencies are going to deny access and close around the country, particularly in rural areas. Louisiana is about a mid-average state, so we're talking about hundreds of thousands of affected seniors and disabled here. "The two largest home health companies in America are located in Louisiana, one in Baton Rouge and another in Lafayette," Tauzin says. "They provide health care services across the country for millions of Americans. They'll tell you they cannot continue to operate with these sized cuts."

The $18-billion-a-year industry is seeing over $100-billion in cuts over the time frame. Tauzin says it can't continue to operate with cuts that deep. "That's the problem, and the administration is so far not active," he says. "It's got to make a decision before the end of the month, and it should tell CMS: 'Back off. You've gone too far.'"

He says this is a really serious issue, and he's urging seniors, or anyone who cares about their parents or grandparents, to go to the homehealth4america website and let their thoughts be known.

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