Why There’s Now a ‘Good Expectation’ That Home Health Medicare Cuts Will Be Mitigated

Posted Friday, September 29, 2023

Home health got confirmation last week that they do have bipartisan support in Washington D.C.  Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated that the country “can’t afford not to” invest in home health care. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MA), the chairman of the subcommittee on health care, said that “reimbursement challenges have added to the challenges for people being able to get the home health care they need.” Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) said that lawmakers needed to be “certain that patients are able to receive the right care, at the right time, in the right setting, with appropriate payment.”  This was welcome news as the final home health payment rule from CMS is coming next month.

“We are hearing from our providers in Tennessee, and there’s a tremendous amount of concern about the payment policy,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said during the hearing. “It is creating some instability and uncertainty. … I have visited with many who have looked at how next year’s payment rates were proposed in June, and how it would make matters worse for these patients.”

Dombi testified at the hearing, and he laid out the issues that most home health providers are currently facing.  That included reimbursement challenges caused by both CMS and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, extreme staffing shortfalls and the referral rejection rates that have skyrocketed as a result of both of those issues.

“Home health spending today is virtually the same as it was in 1997, despite 24 years of cost inflation,” Dombi said during the hearing. “In 1997, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 years later $40 billion per year would be spent on home health services. It’s still under $17 billion per year. It’s a telltale that we cannot continue to see happening. In comparison, inpatient hospital spending rose from $80 billion to $130 billion, while skilled nursing facility care – what home health is trying to avoid – rose from $11 billion to $27.2 billion.”

Now we all wait for the final rule to be released and hope that the bipartisan support has truly helped with the outcome.

Source: Home Health Care News

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