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Bipartisan Reps Claim New Bill Would Delay Medicare’s Insolvency, But Experts Aren’t So Sure

Republican Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith and Democratic Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell introduced legislation that would allow some Medicare beneficiaries to receive in-home medical care, but experts are skeptical of their cost-saving claims, according to Politico.

The Expanding Care in the Home Act would allow Medicare recipients who aren’t eligible for Medicaid to receive 12 hours of in-home personal care per week and expand reimbursements for at-home treatments. Its supporters have claimed that increased access to home care, particularly preventative care, could drive down total Medicare costs by reducing the need for more expensive visits down the line, but critics doubt that those savings could cover the costs of widespread in-home care, according to Politico.

“Among the proposed programs, the one for which there will be the biggest demand is personal care services, which will be expensive and raises questions about whether there will be overall cost savings,” Rachel Werner, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, told Politico. “The cost implications probably vary across the different provisions and it’s hard to know what the total costs might be.”

People who ordinarily wouldn’t pay for personal care services would come out in droves to receive it if it were covered by Medicare, Werner told the outlet.

Monitoring patients from their homes, including through remote technologies, can help providers detect and treat issues before they become more serious and more costly, proponents of home care told Politico.

While in-home care could help reduce costly hospital visits, a heavier up-front approach in which services gradually dwindle might be more effective, Robert Burke, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told Politico.

“It could help or exacerbate [workforce shortages],” said Julian Harris, former health care team lead at the White House Office of Management and Budget under former President Barack Obama and CEO of ConcertoCare, which cares for patients with complex conditions in the home. “We will likely have challenges as the Baby Boomers continue to age into Medicare with staffing and care needs of patients who want to receive care in the home with some of our legacy approaches.”

The consulting firm McKinsey estimated that $250 billion worth of Medicare and Medicare Advantage services could be moved from traditional facilities into homes over the coming three years.

Dingle and Smith did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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