Congress Members Band Together Against Home Health Cuts

Nearly 150 House Representatives have sent a letter to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expressing concern regarding proposed cuts to Medicare home health reimbursements and how they could affect patient access to skilled home health care.

The 142 bipartisan lawmakers signed a Sept. 25 letter urging CMS to conduct a complete analysis of the impact of a proposed 14% reduction in Medicare home health funding.

CMS proposed in June to rebase Medicare home health reimbursements at a rate of 3.5% a year for the next four years, which would result in reducing the national average Medicare margin to negative 9.77%, according to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

The proposed cuts will amount to almost $22 billion in a 10-year span. 

“We are concerned that the proposed rule would have a direct impact on access for millions of seniors, many of whom reside in rural and underserved communities,” said lawmakers in their letter to CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “A significant amount of this care in rural and underserved areas is provided by thousands of small businesses that would be most at risk of going out of business under the proposed rule.”

CMS’ proposed rule fails to include a complete analysis of its impact in the four-year span in which it will be implemented, or of its impact on small businesses, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, according to the Partnership, and the lawmakers also say the rule isn’t based on the detailed analysis required under the Affordable Care Act.

“As a result of these factors, we respectfully request the Agency’s analysis of the impact of this rule on beneficiaries, the national delivery system, each state, and small businesses be performed in each of the four years in which the rebasing adjustment is to take effect. We also ask that CMS utilize a more current and complete data set to fully account for the operating costs that are routinely borne by home health providers.”

Earlier in September, the Small Business Association voiced similar concerns to CMS, also supported by the Partnership.  

“We look forward to a more comprehensive analysis of the proposed rule so that homebound Medicare beneficiaries can continue to access the cost-effective and clinical advanced healthcare services they need in the setting they prefer—their homes,” said Eric Berger, president and CEO of the Partnership, in a statement. 

Read the full letter.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Alyssa Gerace