NAHC Recommends How to Modernize Medicare on the Programs 47th Birthday
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Barbara D. Woolley
Washington , D.C. (July 31, 2012) Val J. Halamandaris, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, today issued this statement:
It is important that we celebrate this important day marking the enactment of Medicare 47 years ago. There is no doubt in anyones mind that the program has helped millions of the aged and disabled by improving their health, increasing their longevity, and enhancing their quality of life. Despite media portrayals, both Democrats and Republicans are committed to preserving the Medicare program. The only remaining question concerns the changes needed to modernize the program and ensure that it can meet the needs of the 78 million baby boomers who are just coming into their retirement years.
Here are a few suggestions for preserving the program and making it better:
- Congress should preserve Medicares status as an earned right, and a promise. The program has been successful because it belongs to all Americans, though it assists the current generation of retirees. All Americans, including younger workers, pay into the program with the expectation that they will be cared for in their retirement years. It is important to preserve this intergenerational contract. The program must not become a welfare program or a handout available to certain classes of the aged and not to others.
- The benefits spelled out under the law should continue to be the same in every state. Medicare should remain a federal program administered by the federal government to assure uniformity, control costs, and minimize fraud and abuse.
- It is important that the program continue to cover younger Americans who are disabled.
- The Affordable Care Act should preserve Medicares focus on both curative and preventive care.
- The Medicare program should be amended to provide more coverage for long-term care at home, thus targeting the 5 percent of Americans who suffer from multiple chronic conditions and represent 50 percent of all health care costs in the U.S.
- The program should be amended to make greater use of technology that cuts costs and improves the quality of care. There is proof that home-based telehealth, for instance, promotes more efficient use of nursing and other professional resources. It also helps patients, aided by family members, to self-manage their care and produces digital records that can be audited to reduce the incidence of fraud.
- The provisions related to hospice and palliative care should be expanded so that more Americans have greater choices at the end of life.
The advent of Medicare showed Congress working in a bipartisan way to serve the greater good. The enactment of Medicare required the programs opponents and proponents to join in making compromises needed to serve the best interests of the American people. It is time to bring back this spirit of cooperation. With 78 million baby boomers knocking on retirements door, the need is both urgent and important.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is a nonprofit organization that represents the nations 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. NAHC also advocates for the more than two million nurses, therapists, aides and other caregivers employed by such organizations to provide in-home services to some 12 million Americans each year who are infirm, chronically ill, and disabled. Along with its advocacy, NAHC provides information to help its members provide the highest quality of care and is committed to excellence in every respect. To learn more about NAHC, visit www.nahc.org.