Home Healthcare On The Chopping Block
In confronting healthcare reform, President Obama and his team have intellectualized a change that may seem to make sense on paper but doesn’t conform with the reality of our current system. President Obama continues to focus on cutting waste and fraud from Medicare while insisting that his budget cuts will not cut services to the millions of older Americans that rely on Medicare for their healthcare. “Nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits,” Obama recently said.
But the simple fact is that the President and The White House have no control over how Medicare service providers prioritize their spending or service delivery. The President can insist that he doesn’t want Medicare services to be cut but when he greatly reduces the amount of money the federal government will pay for Medicare; service providers alone get to decide how to deal with that revenue loss. It is the private sector service providers, not the President, that decide what to cut and how to cut. For example, Medicare providers will decide if they continue to pay their workers the same amount of money but cut services – or – if they cut the number of workers delivering the services – or – if they just take less profit. Obama has envisioned a free-market system that will just take less profit. The President is either intellectually naïve because of his lack of experience outside the classroom or strategically trying to manipulate our way of life.
But this is America and we have a free-market system that is more about supply and demand than it is about altruism. As much as the President has intellectualized a healthcare change that will act collectively, his plan is impractical in a capitalistic society. Obama’s healthcare reform efforts are, in fact, a dangerous assault on America’s current system. My Harvard Economics Professor taught me that whenever government mandates a price or manipulates the market the entire model gets flipped upside down. Professor Obama should know that any kind of government intervention in the free-market system causes the system to act irrationally, not collectively.
Home healthcare is the perfect example of Obama’s academic thinking. Over the last 10 years, home healthcare services have dramatically increased in an effort to decrease expensive hospitalization costs. Home healthcare has become a relatively inexpensive way to care for patients who do not need round the clock care from a hospital or nursing home. If we are trying to save money within the healthcare system we should be advocating for more homecare not less. However, the Congressional Budget Office says that the Democratic plan currently being debated drastically cuts homecare spending. Home healthcare services would absorb more than 13 percent of the proposed Medicare cuts to the tune of $43 billion.
If Obama and company want to keep healthcare costs down then home healthcare should be expanded not cut. If older Americans or active people want to recover in the comfort of their home rather than in a hospital or nursing home then we should encourage their decision.
But yesterday, the Democratically-controlled Senate followed President Obama’s plan and put home care on the chopping block. President Obama, however, continues to insist that Medicare services and patient options will not be diminished even though providers will have a $43 billion hole to fill.