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LETTER TO EDITOR: Health care reform could hurt home care

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To the editor:

I would like to inform the public, especially home care patients and your families, about the crippling impact current health care reform legislation could have on your access to care and your ability to maintain your dignity and comfort by choosing home care for your medical needs. Nine out 10 seniors say they prefer home care over institutional care.

While I understand Congress is working to fund health insurance for individuals who currently lack coverage, it is important to realize that the proposed funding sources include cuts of $57 billion to Medicare's home health benefit over 10 years. The National Association of Home Care & Hospice (www.nahc.org) has estimated that as many as one million Medicare beneficiaries could lose service under the cuts, and two-thirds of Medicare-participating home health agencies could be at risk of closing - affecting millions more who receive services through Medicaid or other insurance coverage.

The cuts are being proposed despite research that indicates home care is more cost effective than institutional care. An Avalere study released in May found that Medicare patients with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or congestive heart failure who received home care within three months of a hospital discharge cost Medicare $1.71 billion less and had 24,000 fewer re-hospitalizations than similar patients who used other forms of post-acute care over a two-year period.

Home care is an option every American should have if and when they need it. I urge all of you to visit HelpUsChooseHome.com to contact your legislators about this important issue.

Daniel Peterson,

Senior Director,

Perham Memorial Home Care

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