HOME HEALTH: Study: Companies Avoid Sickest Patients
Some home health care companies have been curbing services to "elderly and disabled patients with expensive medical problems" in an effort to counteract Medicare cuts, according to a study released Tuesday. Researchers from the George Washington University surveyed 28 home care companies from nine states -- California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas -- and found that nearly two-thirds had "taken steps to lower the proportion of very sick Medicare patients they serve." Those steps included:
- Turning away patients who required longer term or repeat care, such as diabetics;
- Eliminating specialist positions like cardiac nurses, to avoid attracting patients with complex problems like congestive heart failure;
- Directing marketing efforts at relatively healthy patients who need procedures with short recovery times, like hip replacements and bypass surgery;
- Pushing to discharge existing Medicare patients with chronic diseases into nursing homes or family care.