Buchanan helping to halt misguided Medicare change

October 28, 2013 

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, speaks to the Bradenton Herald Editorial Board last month. FILE PHOTO/PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

BRADENTON HERALD — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

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 healthcare 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 who need intensive medical rehabilitation care (that can only be provided in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals) by revisiting a technical policy called the "60 percent rule." This policy requires hospitals like HealthSouth of Sarasota to treat at least 60 percent of all our patients who have medical diagnoses derived from a list of 13 medical categories, such as strokes, neurological impairments and trauma cases.

It is antiquated, quota-based, and can have a rationing effect on patients -- yet increasing it to 75 percent would make its effects worse. Shifting seniors' access away from rehabilitation hospitals simply because their diagnoses are not included on an outdated list of medical conditions is not "reform."

Thankfully, Congressman Vern Buchanan recognizes this and recently signed a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius expressing concerns with this idea.

On behalf of our employees and the patients we serve, Congressman Buchanan's support is greatly appreciated. There are multiple alternatives available to achieve reform in our healthcare system, but reducing patients' access to our services simply because of their diagnoses is not one of them.

Marcus Braz, CEO, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of SarasotaSarasota

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