One other area where high gas prices are taking a toll, especially in rural areas.  In this particular area, if one lives more than 40-50 miles away, they are just out of luck for any imageservice at all.  The changed reimbursement system is the main cause for the problem here.  Without a change, the home health agencies will go out of business, and they are trying to stress the use of technology with home monitoring devices, but that can’t take care of 100% of the visits.  If the patients are not cared for in their home settings, they will end up back at the hospital, a much higher bill to pay.  Mr. Leavitt is scheduled to visit the community next week.  BD  

SIOUX FALLS – High gas prices, combined with several other factors, have hit the home health care industry hard, draining the budgets of agencies that pay staff members for home visits and forcing some to reduce their service areas – while others have simply gone out of business.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said Wednesday he wants the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the effects that soaring gas prices are having on the delivery of home health services.  Medicare pays home health care agencies a predetermined base payment, with some adjustments. Before 2000, the agencies were reimbursed on a cost-based system and used to be able to count mileage costs, according to Dockter.


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