Kentucky Congressman Exploits Legislation to Loot Taxpayers
He also co-sponsored the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2009 and the Home Healthcare Nurse Promotion Act of 2009. The former bill would “repeal a provision of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 that placed an annual financial limitation on rehabilitation services under Medicare.” The latter will “increase home healthcare services,” and help in the “retention of home healthcare nurses.” Passage of these bills won’t help balance the budget, but will grow companies like Almost Family, “a leading provider of home health nursing, rehabilitation and personal care services.”
In April, Yarmuth co-sponsored H. Res. 1291: Expressing support for designation of the week beginning May 9, 2010, as National Nursing Home Week. His constituents don’t have to wonder why their district’s unemployment rate is 10.3%, when this type of fluff is where Yarmuth focuses his time.
Yarmuth also helped vote in H.R. 3962, the Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010. This bill, signed into law by President Obama on June 25, blocks cuts to Medicare and gives medical practices a 2.2 percent increase in Medicare reimbursements. Almost Family stockholders like John Yarmuth must be thrilled.
At a town hall meeting in Louisville, when a voter asked Yarmuth how Congress would pay for increased entitlement spending in health care, Yarmuth replied, “I don’t know.” This less-than-brilliant response from the Democrats’ chief communicator went over like a lead balloon.
But Yarmuth does have his own ideas about from where Congress should take the money. While editor of the Louisville Eccentric Observer, Yarmuth wrote extensively about doubling the payroll tax to pay for extending Medicare. Yarmuth believes that Medicare should be available to everyone living in the United States (he makes no distinction between legal and illegal residents) and that working Americans should pay the bill.
In November, Yarmuth is up for re-election and facing Republican Todd Lally. Many of Kentucky’s political pundits consider Yarmuth’s seat safe because Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 2 to 1, and Yarmuth has a hefty campaign chest. However, Kentucky Democrats tend to be more moderate than those in places like San Francisco or Berkeley. So Yarmuth’s voting record, which is 99% in accordance with Nancy Pelosi, has left many of his constituents wondering where his loyalties lie. In a poll just before Kentucky’s primary, about half of likely voters polled said they’d wait to see who was running against Yarmuth before deciding how they will vote. But 28% said they would vote against Yarmuth no matter who runs against him.
What may also prove helpful to Lally’s campaign is an investigation recently launched by the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee is looking into four of the nation’s largest home health care companies, including Almost Family. Analysis by the Wall Street Journal of Medicare payouts to home health care agencies shows these companies may be deliberately gaming the system to get higher Medicare reimbursements. The investigation could shine the spotlight on Yarmuth’s connections to Almost Family, or it could be swept under the rug.