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Public Statements

In Support of Workers and the Service They Provide to Medicare Patient

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commend America's home healthcare workers who provide services to millions of patients, including many Medicare beneficiaries, who are homebound and require skilled care. These skilled and dedicated workers are among the unsung heroes in the effort to contain the cost of healthcare without sacrificing the quality of service provided to patients.

Today, there are more than 40 million seniors in the United States, 12 percent of the population. In 20 years, that number will increase to 70 million, or 20 percent of the population. More than 27 million of these individuals are over age 70, and more that 1 million are over the age of 80. Further, more than 43 million people in the United States, 19 percent of the population, provide care for an elderly family member or friend.

Mr. Speaker, many healthcare treatments that were once offered only in a hospital or a physician's office can now be safely, effectively, and efficiently provided in patients' homes by skilled clinicians. Home healthcare is generally less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care provided in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Home healthcare can serve as an intermediate level of care for patients who have difficulty accessing outpatient care or who need intensive assistance with an acute or chronic health problem.

Skilled home healthcare services funded under Medicare Part A and B are safe, effective, affordable, clinically advanced, and patient preferred.

A case study conducted by the Veterans' Administration (VA) illustrates the benefits of home healthcare. The VA has provided comprehensive primary care services to veterans in their homes since 1972 in an effort to keep patients in their homes and reduce inpatient hospital days. The program was specifically
designed to target patients with complex chronic diseases through an interdisciplinary team of health professionals. This program showed a reduction in inpatient hospital days by 62 percent, and a reduction in nursing home bed days by 88 percent. This translated into a reduction in the cost of care from $38,000 to $29,000 per patient per year for patients enrolled in the program (a 24 percent reduction).

The Medicare program continues to increase in importance in my home state of California, where our senior population is increasing dramatically. The percentage of Californians age 6o and older is expected to grow from 6.4 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent by 2030, according to the California Department of Aging. In my district, there are currently 63,053 Medicare recipients. I am committed to preserving benefits for current recipients and those nearing retirement, while guaranteeing the program's solvency for future generations of Americans.

For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to join me in support of Medicare's Skilled Home Healthcare Services act.

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