Associations blast Medicare advisory panel's recommendations

Associations representing high-needs patients are hitting back at a congressional advisory panel’s recommendations for Medicare payments in fiscal 2012.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) said on Thursday that new copayments are needed for home health visits to discourage seniors from overusing the service. 

Val Halamandaris, president of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, said MedPAC should instead encourage home health visits.

"Not only is home care the right way to save billions in Medicare expenditures, it is what our seniors need to meet their increasing and complicated healthcare requirements," Halamandaris said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Steering seniors away from home care through high copayment requirements is simply bad policy."

Meanwhile, a nursing home association criticized the advisory panel for voting against a cost-of-living increase for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in fiscal 2012.

"MedPAC's recommendation fails to consider the significant and historic underfunding of SNF patient care by state Medicaid programs,” said Alan Rosenbloom, president of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care in a statement. “This underfunding negatively affects all government-funded patients in SNFs.”