What They’re Saying

• Healthcare provisions in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 may help Medicare stamp out fraud, but it is also causing healthcare providers to chip away at vital services, said a report in The Indianapolis Star and News. The government has argued that under the old system, nursing homes had no incentive to keep track of therapy charges and were billing the government $100 an hour for physical therapy when the average therapist makes $15 an hour. Nursing home administrators don’t deny that abuses took place, but the pendulum has swung back too far, they told the Star. "It’s not just nursing homes, but the whole healthcare spectrum that’s just been cut and cut and cut," said Keith Lauter, director of finance for St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers (Beech Grove, IN). "After a while, you get to a point where you get what you pay for."

President Clinton’s recent five-year $6.2 billion long term care plan was recently called by an article in the Chicago Tribune "the first major government recognition of the substantial strains – economic, social, and emotional – associated with caregiving." If put into effect, 1.2 million older Americans, 250,000 children, and more than 500,000 disabled adults would qualify for the program.