MedPAC recommends copays for home health care

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Expect an uproar from the AARP in the coming days regarding a new recommendation issued by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) Thursday that would require seniors receiving home health care to make copayments. The recommendation is an attempt to provide a check on a service that already costs taxpayers close to $20 billion annually, but currently is provided for free to patients, the Associated Press reports. 

"At the extreme, this benefit can turn into a long-term care social support system," MedPAC chairman Glenn Hackbarth said. "A modest copayment is one tool to help deal with that problem." 

The proposed fee would run around $150 for "a series of related visits." According to the AP, more than 3 million people use home health services. 

While many of the commissioners who voted on the measure expressed concern about how seniors with "modest incomes" would manage, a 13-1 vote was made in favor of passing the recommendation along to lawmakers. Low-income patients, along with recent hospital discharges, would be exempt from the copayment. 

"Most [fee-for-service] services have some cost sharing, but home health is an exception," MedPAC's presentation read. "Per-episode co-pay would encourage [the] beneficiary to assess the need for any home health, but not [the] number of visits." 

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- here's MedPAC's presentation

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