HOME HEALTH CARE: Massachusetts MDs Cite Shortcomings
Chronically ill patients in Massachusetts are often denied needed home care, according to a survey of the state's physicians commissioned by the Massachusetts Medical Society. Attributing care denials to the efforts of the government and insurers to trim expenditures, officials point to a system in need of "significant improvement." The Boston Globe reports that two-thirds of the 6,500 physician respondents indicated that "on occasion, they thought their patients didn't have enough home health coverage," even as 90% indicated that they routinely prescribed home health services. The physicians also expressed concern about the "difficulty of getting information about the condition of patients receiving home care," noting that some information does not reach the doctors until "it's well out of date." Compounding the problem, said Dr. B. Dale Magee, chair of the survey committee, is the influx of patients requiring home health care services. "Insurers are using it more often, in part because of the pressure to get patients out of the hospital sooner. But one of our concerns is that in trying to get control of budgets, some cuts have been made across the line," he said (Saltus, 2/4). Dr. Claudia Koppelman, who asked the medical society look into the issue, said, "I have had patients end up dying because services were cut." When the elderly do not receive needed home health care services, "they can end up in a hospital or nursing home, costing Medicare thousands more than the home care services," she said (Kerr, Springfield Union-News, 2/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.