2003-02-01 / Editorial/Opinion

Medicare Cuts Threaten Senior Care

When Congress adjourned for the end of the year holiday last December, they left a sack of coal in the Christmas Stocking of every senior citizen who needs physical therapy services. In 1997, Congress passed the Balanced Budget Act, which put a $1,500 limit on physical therapy and speech services for those on Medicare. In November of 1999, Congress put a hold on the $1,500. In June of 2002, the House of Representatives passed another two-year hold. The Senate did not. The original hold expired in November of 2002, and Congress failed to pass a new hold. What does this mean for our senior citizens? For many, it means that stroke victims will be unable to get the rehabilitation they need to get back a viable quality of life. For senior citizens who fall and break a wrist, a hip, an arm or a leg, it means that those local residents will not be able to get the skilled rehabilitation help they so desperately need. Many seniors have found that $1,500 does not last long when both services are needed. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced this week a bill that would freeze the cuts for six months. "This six month pause is a time-out,
the Senator said. "It will allow us to stabilize the patient while we continue to search for an effective cure to the ills that face the Medicare and Medicaid programs." We agree. It is time to give a little dignity back to those who gave so much to make our nation what it is today.

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