Patients to Lose Access to Quality Care if Congress Passes Cuts to Rehabilitation
Marianjoy Agrees Medicare Cuts to Rehabilitation Will Increase Overall Healthcare Costs, Reduce Rehabilitation Workforce
Wheaton, IL – Medical rehabilitation made headlines in early 2007 as the nation watched Journalist Bob Woodruff’s first interview and his ongoing recovery after he was severely injured 13 months earlier by a roadside bomb in Iraq. More recently, the country caught a glimpse of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ continued rehabilitation after a gunshot last January left her with a traumatic brain injury. Their remarkable journeys provide brief, yet insightful views of the importance of physical rehabilitation in the recovery from injury, illness, or disability. Unfortunately, this type of care – the care that you or a loved one requires after a stroke, spinal cord injury, or brain injury – may not be accessible in the near future.
As part of the government’s plan to reduce the federal deficit, Congress is proposing disproportionate cuts to inpatient rehabilitation facilities which would greatly reduce access to quality and medically necessary care and threaten the viability of rehabilitation hospitals and units in this country. These cuts include reducing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to inpatient rehabilitation providers and further restricting the types of patients who may receive inpatient rehabilitation care. To place these cuts in context, care in inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and units (IRH/U) currently accounts for approximately 1.3% of total Medicare expenditures. In the recent weeks Congress has considered further cuts to inpatient rehabilitation accounting for greater than 11% of the total proposed Medicare reductions.
Physical rehabilitation is comprised of specialized care including physical, occupational, and speech therapy that a patient receives after an acute hospital stay. Rehabilitation provides patients with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, neuromuscular disorders, and joint replacements, opportunities to restore function and improve their quality of life. Rehabilitation maximizes patient health, reduces medical complications and subsequent hospital visits and in turn, reduces overall healthcare costs.
“As communities grow, baby boomers age, and veterans return home, the demand for all levels of rehabilitation will increase,” explains Kathleen Yosko, President and CEO of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Illinois. “Yet these cuts will lead to a greater number of discharges home or to nursing homes when patients would greatly benefit from rehabilitation. This will undoubtedly lead to increased healthcare costs and families will suffer the consequences.”
Since her husband’s injury, Lee Woodruff has championed rehabilitation and its importance in making individuals and families whole again. Lee is a renowned writer and best-selling author as she wrote about her and her family’s experience in Bob’s rehabilitation journey.
Lee recently posted an article on her blog – www.leewoodruff.com – in support of rehabilitation providers in the fight against the proposed cuts. She emphasizes that these cuts will lead to higher costs, reduced quality of life for people with disabilities, and added stress for families and caregivers. “As evident in Lee’s experience, rehabilitation plays a pivotal role in returning individuals to productive and involved members of the community,” affirms Yosko. “We are thankful to Bob and Lee Woodruff in their continued support of rehabilitation.”
Yosko recently traveled to Washington with other rehabilitation executives to educate legislators on the importance of rehabilitation, but assures that involvement from families and communities can help influence lawmakers. “Marianjoy and other rehabilitation hospitals need help from our communities and families who may need rehabilitation in the future. Ask Members of Congress to reject these proposals and look for other avenues for savings.”
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Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital is a nonprofit teaching hospital in Wheaton, Illinois, dedicated to the delivery of physical medicine and rehabilitation programs including stroke, neuromuscular, orthopedic, brain injury, spinal cord injury, and pediatrics. Marianjoy’s $60 million, 120 private room replacement hospital is a state-of-the-art facility designed to enhance the naturally holistic approach to rehabilitation. Founded in 1972, Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital maintains an extensive network of inpatient, subacute, and outpatient sites and physician clinics throughout the Chicago area. Marianjoy is a member of Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.