The Obama Administration’s FY 2014 budget released earlier this week included several proposals that put essential home health services at risk, according to industry professionals.
The budget included a co-payment for home health services of $100 per home health episode. This would apply to episodes with five or more visits not preceded by a hospital or post-acute care stay for new beneficiaries starting in 2017.
If enacted, this proposal would reduce Medicare payments for home health services by $60 million over five years and $730 million over 10 years.
President Obama’s budget also includes reduced inflation updates in 2014 through 2023.
The proposed update reductions of 1.1 percentage points each year looks to affect all post-acute care providers, according to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).
“Essential home health services are at risk,” said NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris.
Previously enacted changes will cut Medicare spending on home health services by $77 billion over the next ten years, while less than $20 billion is spent annually, says Halamandaris.
As a result of these cuts, Halamandaris notes, 50% of all Medicare participating agencies will be underwater in 2014.
“With regard to the reimbursement rates for doctors through Medicare, the home health community supports reforms that will stabilize Medicare payments to physicians,” said Halamandaris. “However, the costs of these reforms should not be funded by indiscriminate across the board cuts to home health care.”
Furthermore, NAHC believes healthcare that is cost-effective for taxpayers, preferred by patients, and results in positive health outcomes should be encouraged and incentivized, rather than punished with additional payment cuts and a misguided “sick tax.”
Written by Jason Oliva