House Lawmakers Slam CMS’ Proposed Home Health Cuts

More than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives took issue with several key aspects of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed rule in a Sept. 18 letter to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the CMS.

CMS published the Home Health Prospective Payment System proposed rule for 2016 in June. The agency proposed to cut $350 million from Medicare provider reimbursements, in addition to the 14% rebasing cut imposed on the home health benefit in January 2014.

In the letter, 133 lawmakers voiced concern regarding the proposal to cut home health payment rates by an additional 1.72% in 2016 and again the following year.

“This proposed ‘case mix’ reduction is of concern because it appears to be based on a 2000-2010 case mix weight change analysis rather than changes in the condition of beneficiaries during the 2012 to 2014 period that Medicare proposes to address,” the letter states.

The lawmakers expressed additional concern with the “aggressive nature” with which the  agency plans to ramp up the home health value-based purchasing program, saying that implementing a VBP program with a 5% withhold that jumps to 8% in only three years is “too much too fast.”

The letter also says the proposed Medicare cuts will place rural and small home health agencies, as well as the homebound beneficiaries they serve, at the most risk.

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare applauded the lawmakers’ letter.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson