Home Health Mess in New Hampshire Costs Providers, Seniors

Home health is in a state of uncertainty in New Hampshire. A budget battle has left reimbursement rates frozen and now the state’s health department is in the hot-seat over yanking home health benefits from some seniors.

Doris Brown is a 92-year-old Laconia, N.H., resident who has been receiving home health services for 13 years, paid for through the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. She recently received a termination notice, stating that her nursing and homemaker benefits were being revoked because she no longer met the medical requirements, local ABC affiliate WMUR reported.

Her case may not be isolated, according to her case manager, Carolyn Virtue of Heritage Case Management. Three other of Virtue’s clients also received terminations on the same day as Brown, which Virtue has never before seen, she told WMUR.

The media attention on Brown’s case led Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R) to call on HHS to explain the terminations. The agency has reversed all termination decisions going back 30 days, The Associated Press reported, and not terminations will be issued as HHS reviews what happened.

HHS reviews every case on an annual basis and fewer than 20% of people are bounced from the program, according to the AP.

The terminations controversy erupted shortly after a political impasse left the state without a budget for the coming year. As a result, home health providers will continue to receive the same reimbursements rather than an anticipated 5% boost. 

Bradley drew a connection between the budget problems and the terminations in comments to WMUR. The office of Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) jresponded by issuing a statement that Brown’s termination was an “individual situation” and drawing broader implications is “misleading to the public.”

Written by Tim Mullaney