Louisiana Senator Voices Concerns for Home Health Rebasing Cuts

Last week, home health leaders applauded Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) voicing her concerns against proposed home health rebasing cuts. 

The letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urges the federal agency to reconsider the proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that intends to cut Medicare home health payments 14% over the next four years. 

Home health leaders have argued that such cuts will cause 47 out of 50 states, including Louisiana, to have negative Medicare margins by 2017. 

“Not only will this cut directly impact Medicare beneficiaries receiving home health services who are often the oldest and most vulnerable in Medicare, but it will also be detrimental to home health agencies, the majority of which are small businesses,” states Sen. Landrieu in her letter.

With roughly 78,000 Medicare beneficiaries relying on home health in her state, Landrieu stated that she is “deeply concerned that the proposed rule underestimates home health agency costs per episode of care for these beneficiaries.”

“Specifically, it does not appear to accurately account for actual operating costs and other recent payment reductions such as Medicare cuts under sequestration and productivity adjustments,” wrote Landrieu.

Home health industry advocates like the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) applauded Sen. Landrieu’s initiative. 

“Senator Landrieu has long been a champion of the home care and hospice community—having addressed NAHC’s annual March on Washington in the past,” NAHC stated. “Her letter to the HHS Secretary demonstrates that both beneficiaries as well as providers will be hurt if CMS’ rebasing rule goes into effect.”

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare shared similar sentiments regarding Sen. Landrieu’s concerns. 

“We commend Senator Landrieu for her leadership in protecting access to vital home health services for our nation’s seniors and stand ready to work with her and other Members of Congress to preserve the Medicare home health benefit,” stated Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership. “We urge CMS to consider her concerns, as well as those of the Small Business Administration and others in Congress, and reevaluate their proposed regulation.”

Written by Jason Oliva