HHS Submits Home Health Report to Congress on New Value-Based Purchasing Program

One of the many requirements of the Affordable Care Act is to develop a plan to implement a value-based purchasing (VBP) program for payments under the Medicare program for home health agencies (HHA).

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary submitted a report containing the plan to Congress. The program would make value based incentive payments in a fiscal year to home health agencies that meet performance standards for defined performance period during that fiscal year.

“Using financial incentives to reward quality and improvement in health care, VBP programs aim to hold providers accountable for the quality of care they provide to Medicare beneficiaries, promote more effective, efficient and high quality care processes, and address the variation in quality across care settings,” said the report.

The Medicare home health program has grown quickly, reaching 3.3 medicare beneficiaries in 2009, which resulted in $18.9 billion in total payments according to the report.

“While the benefit is designed to encourage teams of skilled professionals to provide patient-focused care to homebound beneficiaries, there is growing concern that the existing payment system does not provide the necessary incentives to provide such high quality patient focused care,” said the report.

The program is to be built on the lessons learned form Medicare quality VBP initiatives, while allowing the States and private sectors to promotes innovative payment and service delivery models to preserve or enhance the quality of care and reduce the growth in program expenditures.

“By implementing a VBP program for HHAs, quality improvement and performance will, over time, align with the National Quality Strategy and other providers in the health system, fostering a culture of shared accountability for beneficiaries and quality improvement,” said the report.

View the report.

Written by John Yedinak

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