Dole continues campaign to soften 'homebound' definition

Saturday, August 31, 2002

WASHINGTON - A passionate plea from Bob Dole to the House of Representatives to soften the "homebound" definition as part of its Medicare bill did little to inspire members, who recently passed a bill focusing on prescription drugs and competitive bidding.

"Hopefully, there are more rational people in the Senate," said Henry Claypool, co-founder and co-director of HalfthePlanet, a non-profit organization representing people with disabilities.

Dole, a former Senate majority leader and 1996 candidate for president, pled with members via an editorial in the June 27 Washington Post that's now posted on HalfthePlanet's Web site. In the editorial, Dole asks representatives to amend the "homebound" definition so beneficiaries like David Jayne can leave their homes without losing their benefits.

"Make no mistake, David Jayne is a prisoner - a prisoner in a specially designed wheelchair," wrote Dole, who was recently made chair of the National Coalition to Amend Medicare Homebound Restriction. "His illness has robbed him of the ability to do anything without the aid of technology. Medicare shouldn't act as a jailer too."

Dole explains that under the current "homebound" definition, beneficiaries risk having their home health benefits yanked if authorities find out they're leaving the home to, say, visit their children. Such activities might have been impossible when the definition was created in the 1960s, but that's not the case today thanks to new technology.

"Unfortunately, Medicare policy has not kept pace with the times and is now punishing the very people it was intended to benefit," Dole wrote.

Industry sources say a big roadblock to amending the "homebound" definition is cost. HME