Partnership Sends Letter to Congress on Home Health Copays

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare sent a letter last week to the House Ways and Means Committee, relaying concerns for the negative impacts of re-imposing a home health copayment. 

In a seven-page letter to the Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), the Partnership outlined a series of factors that underscore certain risks that home health cost-sharing would impose, such as jeopardizing Medicare beneficiary access to care, increasing state and federal spending as well as hindering economic growth.

The Partnership refers to a previous copayment initially included in the Medicare program that was repealed in 1972 because it was found to be “ineffective in reducing costs” and imposed a “financial burden to many elderly persons living on marginal incomes.”

“Re-imposing a policy that has already bend found to be flawed and counterproductive, would expose beneficiaries and taxpayers to risk,” the Partnership wrote.

Citing estimates by Avalere Health, the Partnership believes that the re-imposition of a copayment could lead to $16.7 billion in additional Medicare spending due to increased facility-based care. 

“We appreciate the opportunity to share our perspectives regarding Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing and look forward to working with the Committee to advance pro-patient solutions that ensure beneficiary access to clinically-advanced, cost-effective, patient preferred home healthcare,” said Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership.

“The Committee is undertaking a thoughtful process and is to be commended for its consideration of the many concerns raised regarding re-imposition of a home health copayment,” he added.

The Partnership’s letter also referenced two additional letters written by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, both of which stressing their concerns regarding a home health copay requirement.

“It would be more beneficial for us to align incentives and look to save both the states and the federal government through better coordination and more effective care,” wrote Governor O’Mally to Gene B. Sperling, assistant to the President for Economic Policy and director of the National Economic Council.

Governor Deal’s letter, addressed to House Speaker John Boehner, requests the House Speaker’s support in opposing a copay requirement. In his letter, Deal urges the support of the Skilled Home Health Integrity and Program Savings (SHHIPS) Act.

The act, which creates payment safeguards and strengthens claims review processing, aims to prevent falsified claims filing in the home health industry by using a targeted approach to combat fraud—a method praised by industry advocates

“This bold reform plan deserves your attention because it will establish much-needed fraud and abuse-fighting mechanisms and achieve substantial scrabble savings,” wrote Governor Deal in his letter to Speaker Boehner. “It is a far better solution than home healthcare copayments and cuts, it achieves sustainable savings, does not further burden state Medicaid programs, and it will erect strong barriers to the type of activity that has plagued patients and taxpayers for far too long.”

Written by Jason Oliva