Is breathing optional?

 - 
02/04/2011

If Medicaid beneficiaries need respiratory care, and Medicaid doesn't cover said care, where does that leave beneficiaries?

I'm no clinician, nor a bureaucrat, but my guess is the hospital. Which according to an AAHomecare handout pinned to my bulletin board, would be expensive. In fact, the handout estimates that homecare costs an average of $6.73 per day, vs. $7,781 to stay in the hospital.

An article in the New York Times today discusses a letter Kathleen Sebelius sent governors that apparently outlined some ways in which cash-strapped states could cut Medicaid spending. One suggestion: cut optional services, which includes respiratory care.

That seems a tad short-sighted. Is breathing even optional?

Interestingly, I just got off the phone with Greg Spratt, the new homecare division chair for the AARC. He is in the process of developing a program he calls "Hospital to Home," in which he aims to find ways in which to help hospitals reduce readmission rates for a handful of respiratory disease states. This is not only good for patients, its good for hospitals, which, under health care reform, are tasked with reducing those rates or face penalties.

To me, that makes good medicine, and good cents.

Theresa Flaherty

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