The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, a coalition of home health providers, has commended Congress for passing a budget package that calls for further analysis of face-to-face regulations and broad funding cuts to the Medicare home health benefit.
Included in the legislation is language that requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to produce a public analysis regarding rebasing within 90 days of the enactment of the budget bill, and within a year, to quantify and report on the efficacy of the face-to-face requirement and how it can be simplified.
Congress’ budget bill also asks CMS for further clarification about the required face-to-face certification by a physician prior to the delivery of Medicare home health care services and how this measure is effective in preventing fraud and controlling costs for the program.
“We are grateful to Congress for this action, which increases the focus on rebasing and regulatory challenges which confront Medicare home health patients, their skilled professional caregivers, and their families,” said Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “Our community welcomes the home health language in this budget agreement as an important step toward rebasing and regulatory relief which will stabilize access for the 3.5 million homebound Medicare beneficiaries who depend on skilled home health care services.”
Starting on January 1 this year, a 3.5% annual rebasing cut to the Medicare home health benefit began to take effect, for a total cut of 14% to home health providers over four years (2014-2017) as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
CMS has previously stated that this cut will cause “approximately 40%” of home health agencies to operate at a net loss by 2017. Additionally, as many as 1.3 million American seniors and disabled patients could be directly impacted by these cuts if they’re not addressed, estimates show.
Written by Emily Study