While the debt ceiling and budget deals in Washington are nearing their deadline (that would be tomorrow, folks), there have been talks about big changes coming to certain programs. In my line of work (working with seniors, as in senior citizens), we are constantly discussing what these debt talks will mean to us and our clients.
A majority of the seniors we serve are on Medicare, a government subsidized health insurance plan for those who are over 65 years old. There is not an income requirement to determine eligibility for Medicare, and it comes in two parts: one plan that covers hospital stays and one that covers doctor’s visits. While there is still a a monthly premium, it is at a lower cost to the senior, especially considering that seniors’ income is very limited because most are retired.
While some seniors use Medicare as supplemental health insurance, many rely on it solely for their health care coverage.
One of the programs often on the chopping block in Washington, as well as social security, is Medicare. It is a nationwide program that helps millions of people. And one thing the big wigs in Washington are concerned about is the increase of seniors in the nation. I hate to always blame the baby boomers, but as they continue to age, the senior population will swell. And those swelling numbers will hit the wallet of the nation hard. That is why Medicare is on the block. Now, Washington is not always wanting to cut the whole program, but they want to make sure it is a good program that is truly helping those in need.
One of the biggest Medicare costs is repeat care. In my line of work, I either see seniors who are ridiculously healthy or those that are on death’s door. Those who are less healthy repeatedly visit the doctor and are in and out of the hospital often. This kind of health care is costly for the senior and very costly for the government. This is why there is a new federal rule to help seniors receiving Medicare after they leave the hospital.
After you leave the hospital, the hospital is technically not responsible for you anymore. In a sense, they have washed their hands of you. But this new federal law wants to change that, giving more responsibility to the hospital in post-stay care.
In an effort to save millions and provide better care for our seniors, the feds want to make sure that once seniors are out of the hospital, they are out for good. Like I mentioned before, some seniors are often readmitted multiple times to the hospital. The feds pay the hospitals directly for the Medicare costs, and now they will reduce payments for those hospitals that have seniors become readmitted multiple times.
Why does this matter? It could save millions. $26 billion a decade, in fact. That is how much it cost the government in hospital re-admittance. Will this improve hospital care? Let’s hope so.