Sequestration

Sequestration. It’s a different sounding kind of word, not something you hear every day. That is unless you’re an American in view of a news outlet, TV program, or any type of media within the last month. In that case, you’ve probably heard it every day.

By definition, sequestration means to remove or separate, banish or exile. When you hear the government leaders using it, they are referring to a permanent cancellation of funds by a percentage. The point of a sequestration is to force the government and American people to get a grip on handling the national debt, which is more than $16 trillion. The cuts apply to all programs, projects and activities within a budget account, and will be divided equally between domestic and defense spending. It is essentially a series of immediate cuts to government agencies totaling $1.2 trillion within the next 10 years.

So what does it mean to us? It means Medicare Home Health is facing a 2% rate reduction every year from 2013 to 2022. So effective April 1, 2013, every claim we submit to Medicare will be reduced by 2%. And next year, we will get another 2% reduction. And the next, for 10 years.

The 2% cut to Medicare will have an approximate impact of $600K/month to the Harden family of companies. To add insult to injury, the 2014 benefit cost increase is an additional $416K/month higher than current as a result of the Affordable Care Act employee insurance mandate.

Think about that for a few minutes. If your paycheck was reduced by 2% every year for 10 years, and your health care benefits cost increased, you’d have to make some adjustments in your household expenses, wouldn’t you? That’s what we are doing at Harden Healthcare.

First and foremost, quality patient care is the most important focus in Harden’s Mission and Business. It’s reflected in our Leadership Values, Guiding Principles, and Standards of Behavior.

Our Mission
To offer a continuum of healthcare services, providing the best care for our patients and a sense of pride and purpose for our associates.

To be able to move forward in times of reimbursement cuts, we are continuously looking for ways to work smarter and be more efficient, and “control our household expenses”. Our LEAN events for billing and accounts receivable, staffing and the Case Management model, and our most recent one for revenue cycle management (primarily decreasing Days to RAP) are a few examples of how we are adjusting in changing times. Creating our ICUs (Intake & Coding Units) are another example – not only have they allowed us to be more efficient with our workforce, the ICUs have proven to be a great example of customer service excellence!

You will continue to see us look for ways to improve our processes and become more efficient as a company. If you have creative ideas of how things could be done better, I’d love to hear them! Feel free to send them to me at rvanmeter@girling.com. Our goal is to continue to provide that quality care that our patients and referral sources have learned to expect from us, and to continue to do so well into the future. I have no doubt that Harden Healthcare will continue to be a strong force in the post-acute continuum space.

Article submitted by: Ronda Van Meter, VP of Operations

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