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Letter: This so-called reform is bad for patients

Now that the government shutdown and debt ceiling matters have been temporarily resolved, the next several months will require Congress to address several important issues, one of which is ensuring that Medicare’s payments to physicians are not cut by nearly 25 percent next year. Congress has repeatedly acted to override these cuts – usually by cutting other health-care providers and suppliers to “pay for” the cost of not allowing the cuts to occur.

Under the guise of “reform,” some policy-makers in Washington want to make it more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries to access intensive medical rehabilitation and nursing care that can only be provided in rehabilitation hospitals and hospital-based rehabilitation units. It has been proposed that rehabilitation hospitals and units further limit access based purely on diagnostic categories regardless of the medical need for a hospital-level service.

This is an antiquated, quota-based policy and can have a rationing effect on patients – increasing these percentages would make a current policy even worse.

Shifting seniors away from rehabilitation hospitals simply because their diagnoses are not included on an outdated list of medical conditions is not “reform.” Thankfully, Congresswoman Annie Kuster recognizes this and recently signed a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concerns with this idea.

On behalf of our employees and the patients we serve, Kuster’s support is greatly appreciated. There are multiple alternatives available to achieve reform in our health care system, including within the rehabilitation hospital community, but reducing patients’s access to our services simply because of their diagnoses is not one of them.

CATHERINE DEVANEY

Concord

(The writer is CEO of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Concord.)

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