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Effort grows to abolish Medicare 'homebound' rule

Feb. 20, 2001 -- Atlanta resident David Jayne is the catalyst for a newly formed national grassroots effort to amend Medicare's "homebound" policy. A website at gives details.

Jayne, who has amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS; sometimes called "Lou Gehrig's Disease") came to the attention of disabiity activists nationwide following a series of newspaper stories last fall. When Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Bill Torpy profiled Jayne and his outreach to others with ALS, reporting that Jayne left his home to give speeches, Healthfield Home Health, who had been sending an attendant to Jayne's home to help him get out of bed and take a shower, notified Jayne that the company was cutting off his services immediately -- because he went out and so was longer considered "homebound."

Jayne soon began a petition drive to change the federal Medicare rules.

Current Medicare rules insist that those receiving Medicare "home care" benefits stay "virtually bound to their homes in order retain such benefits," says the mission statement of the newly formed National Coalition to Amend the Medicare Homebound Restriction for Severely Disabled Americans, or NCAHB. They call the current policy "an anachronism," and are pushing Congress to "implement an alternative to the current policy which recognizes that persons with significant chronic illnesses must not spend their lives homebound."

Jayne's petition can be found at

Bill Torpy's story, "The Tin Man's Heart", from the 11/26/2000 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is online at

A good overview of the issue can be found in disability issues columnist Mike Volkman's 12/24/2000 Albany Times Union column 'Homebound Rule Must be Abolished,", and from disability journalist Miriam Braunstein's article in New Mobility magazine, "Homebound and Wishing They Weren't.

The "Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000" (BIPA), signed into law on December 21, includes a clarification of the Medicare homebound definition. A good article explaining it can be found at the Center for Medicare Advocacy website.

Another good background piece is "There's No Place Like 'Homebound': Understanding Medicare's 'Confined To Home' Requirements," by attorney Lewis Golinker, Director of the Assistive Technology Law Center in Ithaca, New York (607-277-7286).

More background can be found at







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