fah hospital policy blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America’s hospitals and the patients we serve.

Senator Mark Kirk Stands Up for Rehabilitation Hospitals & the 60% Rule

November 21, 2013 | FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Category: Rehabilitation Care

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) penned an op-ed in The Hill this week, offering vociferous support for rehabilitation hospitals and calling for the preservation of the 60% rule.  Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January 2012 returning to the Senate this year, touches upon his own experience with rehabilitation to highlight the critical care patients can only receive at an inpatient rehabilitative facility, or IRF.


          “I credit returning to the Senate to nearly a year of intense, grueling physical and occupational therapy. It is now a major priority for me to help others who suffer from major health events to get back to work through rehab, and I believe access to specialized care at a rehabilitation hospital holds the key to meeting this goal.”


In the editorial, Kirk outlines the ongoing battle in Congress regarding the 60% rule, which would severely impact access to rehabilitation care for those who fall outside of the parameters of specific Medicare prerequisites.  Kirk explains,


          “This would be a mistake. Under the proposed change, some hospitals will close, and children managing cancer treatments or adults needing rehab after organ transplants will be turned away. A person who has survived a catastrophic infection or a complicated hospital stay but does not have the basic strength or endurance for mobility would also be turned away.”


IRFs offer specialized care that patients cannot receive in a hospital, nursing home or other facility.  And as Kirk points out, numerous studies prove rehabilitative care is a more efficient and cost-effective means to help patients rebound and return to their normal lives. Kirk agrees with the sentiments of organizations like FAH, MedPac and CMS, who have already recommended maintaining the 60% rule as it stands today, adding,


          “It doesn’t make sense to change the rule when the current framework helps individuals of all ages return to their productive place in society with the right remedies. We shouldn’t be holding patients back with options for lesser care, or worse, no options at all. Over the long run, changing the rule will only push people into reduced care, driving up costs and preventing them from returning to work faster.”


The FAH is glad to have the support of Senator Mark Kirk in our efforts to preserve the 60% rule so that all patients who require inpatient rehabilitative care can get the proper treatment they deserve.  Senator Kirk is an example of the extraordinary improvement patients can experience with excellent rehabilitative care.  That is the standard every American should have access to, should they ever need it.  The FAH encouraged Senator Kirk’s colleagues on the Hill to support his efforts and stand with him in preserving access to IRFs.