Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke during the opening general session at the NAHC convention in Denver. A strong advocate for home health care, Senator Collins is introducing this bill to prevent drastic cuts to home care that are looming in the congress and at CMS. She was particularly critical of the U.S. House of Representatives for the approach to the SCHIP bill that President Bush recently vetoed. This bill would have taken $2.5 Billion from home care over five years to pay for SCHIP.
Senator Collins also discussed proposed CMS administrative cuts of $6 Billion over five years to account for "Case Mix Creep," the perported "gaming" of the system to increase billing by increasing the acuity level of OASIS assessments at the start of care. Rather than artificially inflating acuity, there is evidence to show that home care patients are in fact more acutely ill than when PPS started in 2000.
Senator Collins asked us to do four things to address this issue:
1. Urge your Senator to sign onto the letter to the Senate Finace Committee urging them to take issue with the CMS cuts. So far, 60 Senators have signed on. We need 67.
2. Write or call your Senators and Congressmen to support the Home Health Care Protection Act when it is introduced. Senator Collins will introduce it in the Senate, and Congressman Jim McGovern will introduce it in the House of Representatives.
3. Invite your Senator and Members of Congress to make a home visit. Senator Collins became a passionate advocate for home care after making home visits in her state.
4. Get involved personally in the political process. Go visit members. Vote. Contribute. Volunteer.