The proposed agreement in a national class action would allow Medicare patients with severe chronic illnesses to keep receiving physical and occupational therapy at home or in nursing homes.
The agreement has been accepted by the Obama administraion, and helps solve a long-running problem for Medicare patients. The old policy said patients must show improvement to be eligible to continue gettng rehab, but Gill Deford, lawyer with the Center for Medicare Advocacy helped fight the old policy.
Deford was the lead attorney on the case, and he told the Associated Press, “If you have a chronic condition, by definition you are not improving. Our view is that Medicare regulations were intended to allow people to maintain their health status […] The point is to allow them not to get any worse, if possible.”
The agreement, which was filed with Chief Judge Christina Reiss of the U.S. District Court in Vermont, is expects to affect the lives of tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of patients across the country. The patients most likely to benefit would be those with intractable conditions such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and chronic lung disease.
Medicare denied that their policy was an inflexible standard, and Erin Shields Britt, spokesperson for the federal Health and Human Services department stated, “This settlement clarifies existing Medicare policy. We expect no changes in access to services or cost.”
Hopefully this isn’t necessarily true, and these patients with chronic disorders can continue to receive rehab and assistance.