Senators Bash CMS Over Home Health Payment Cuts

Four U.S. Senators asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw proposed case mix cuts and value-based purchasing penalties in a letter dated Sept. 24.

The letter echoed a similar letter to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the CMS, written by 133 members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 18.

CMS released the Home Health Prospective Payment System proposed rule for 2016 earlier this year, in which the agency proposes to slash another $350 million from the Medicare program’s home health care benefit on top of the 14% rebasing cut imposed on the home health benefit in January 2014.

In the Sept. 24 letter, Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., noted that the draft HHPPS rule proposes to slash home health payment rates by an additional 1.72% in 2016.

“Despite CMS’ intention to adjust payments for changes in actual conditions during 2012 to 2014, the proposed rule appears to base the adjusted rate on claims from the 2000 to 2010 period,” the lawmakers wrote. “With more recent data available, we question the soundness of relying on outdated data.”

The lawmakers said they were “pleased” to see that the draft rule proposed a home health value-based purchasing program. However, they expressed concern that the proposed incentive and penalty proposal, which could range as much as 5% to 8% over a five-year time frame, would create major challenges for home health providers and their patients.

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice praised the lawmakers’ letter in separate press releases.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson