Medicare Spending for Home Care Drops 45 Percent

Where''s the budget surplus going? Not to helping people stay at home. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare spending for home care dropped from $17.5 billion in 1997 to $9.7 billion in 1999. This is the result of changes in reimbursement rules Congress made in 1997 to stem the growth of Medicare spending, changes that have had a more severe effect than anyone intended at the time.

The result is that many homebound seniors are not receiving the care they need and many home health agencies have had to merge or go out of business. Many have adopted strict rules on who they will accept as patients, turning down those who need a high level of care or who the expect to need care for a long time.