Briefly Noted

• The biggest challenge facing home health agencies today is finding the right employees, said Stephen Tweed, a healthcare strategist with Tweed Jeffries (Louisville, KY). "The growing demand for self-pay home care and government-funded supportive services will explode over the next several years," Tweed said. "The agencies that will be able to meet this huge demand will be those that can attract the best people." Tweed and nationally-known recruiting expert Catherine Fyock have co-authored a book called, Strategic Recruiting: Finding the Employees You Need in Home Care. The five-section, 138-page manual provides techniques for knowing when employees are unhappy, and how to apply marketing principles to recruiting. For more information, call the authors at (800) 254-5777, or contact them through email at SCTweed@aol.com.

• Since the government reported that Medicare spending was $2.6 billion less than the same period in the previous year, healthcare professionals are lobbying Congress to rewrite or repeal parts of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Medicare spending for home healthcare dropped about 15% last year, to $14.9 billion, reported The New York Times. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that home health agencies will get a total of $79 billion from 1998 to 2002 - $48 billion less than predicted in January 1997. But the CBO predicts that annual outlays will more than double in the next decade and will exceed $400 billion by 2008, the Times reported.

• The General Accounting Office comptroller, General David Wallace, has appointed Carol Raphael president/CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, to serve three years on the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC). The Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) nominated Raphael for the position because of her expertise in post-acute healthcare and public policy. She is the first home care provider to serve on MedPAC.

• Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has introduced the Medicare Rehabilitation Benefit Equity Act to address the cap placed on outpatient rehabilitation services under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. The $1,500-per-person cap has made it difficult for stroke and hip fracture patients to receive services, which almost always exceed the cap. "These individuals are sometimes rationing their own care for fear that they will need it more later in the year," said Stark. His act would allow for exceptions from the cap. It would also give direction to develop a payment system for rehabilitation services that classifies patients by diagnostic category and seriousness of illness by Jan. 1, 2002.