USA Today reported that home health care companies made an average 19.4% profit in 2010, a report shows, prompting the independent board that oversees Medicare to again ask Congress to lower reimbursement rates for these companies.  The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) reports each March about trends in overall Medicare spending and how to save money. Their latest findings include:

•The government saved money by increasing the use of generic drugs for Medicare recipients. Beneficiaries who pay some share of their drug costs are more likely to use generics than lower-income patients who don’t have to pay, the study showed.

•Medicare Part D spending for prescription medications rose from $42.5 billion in 2006 to $59 billion in 2011.

•Medicare Advantage enrollment grew to 12.1 million beneficiaries in 2011. That counters predictions by opponents of the 2010 health care law who said Medicare Advantage payments would drop.

The home health care industry is fighting a proposed law that would require them to pay employees minimum wage and overtime. They argue that seniors will have to pay more money and will have to have several caregivers, rather than one who can stay all the time, because the companies won’t have the money they need to pay those benefits. But Mark Miller, MedPAC’s executive director, said the board expects the industry to see a 19.8% profit margin in 2013 from Medicare.