February 1, 2018

Congress Must Act Quickly to Restore the Home Healthcare Rural Safeguard

Millions of older Americans depend on Medicare in order to age with dignity and comfort in their own homes. For seniors living in rural areas, the Medicare home health benefit is especially important because other healthcare options are often limited.

Older Americans living in rural areas face greater healthcare obstacles than their urban counterparts. A study by the Moran Company found that rural home health beneficiaries are often older, sicker, have lower incomes, and are living with more chronic conditions than the general Medicare population. They must also must travel twice as far to see a doctor or to reach the nearest hospital.

Since 2000, Congress has recognized this fact and funded the “rural safeguard” to give providers an additional payment to help offset the higher costs of delivering care to remote communities. Unfortunately, the provision expired at the end of last year, leaving rural seniors vulnerable to a disruption in their services if funding is not quickly restored.

The good news is that lawmakers are currently debating a bipartisan package of “Medicare extenders” that includes a provision to restore the rural safeguard.

Congress must act quickly to pass the Medicare extenders. Contact your Members of Congress today and urge them to protect Medicare home healthcare services for rural seniors!