Home Health Crystal Ball: Executives Predict the Future of 2017

Across the country, executives are trying to get a grip on what 2017 will bring for home health and home care.

Despite great uncertainty surrounding an extensive transition of power at virtually all government levels, there are some signs and predictions executives are betting on. From the potential for a rollback in regulations to the influence of new leadership at federal departments, some industry leaders believe home health could be in a good place this year.

Others are more skeptical about how recent regulations are really impacting the goals of reducing fraud and boosting patient outcomes, while almost everyone thinks the industry is in store for continued growth and consolidation.

“I see 2017 shaping up as a year of ambiguity on the regulatory, legislative and policy fronts. Also most likely in the offing are increased partnerships and consolidation throughout the industry and a heavier focus on how to deal with managed care. For Amedisys, we will continue to articulate and advocate our position in the post-acute continuum and the value of health care in the home.” —Paul Kusserow, Chief Executive Officer, Amedisys (Nasdaq: AMED)

“We still have a lot of work to do to change the perception that home health is inherently fraudulent. We need to help redirect CMS’ efforts from more and stricter regulatory requirements for all agencies to differentiating between good and bad providers and dealing with the bad ones.

“I believe we’ll see continued movement down the cost and skill curve to manage bundles/episodes of care. Post-acute care has continued to shift from SNF to home health and in some areas to non-skilled/non-licensed services in the home. I’m concerned that rather than reducing the cost of Medicare-certified home health care by reducing regulatory burdens, Medicare will encourage/allow more care to be shifted to lower-skilled, less regulated care in the home. In addition, more burden will be placed on informal caregivers to support the plan of care at home.” —Marcia Ressig, Chief Executive Officer, Sutter Care at Home  

“With the continued priority for healthcare providers to deliver improved patient outcomes, high customer satisfaction and create savings to Medicare, home health will remain a key policy solution in 2017. We’re hoping for a more responsive regulatory process that recognizes the home is the patient’s preferred setting and provides the flexibility and a better environment to innovate.” —Benjamin A. Breier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Kindred Healthcare (NYSE: KND).

“In 2017, I see a continuing increase in the demand for home health care services, as the number of seniors increases and people see home care as a better option compared to facility-based care. However, lower reimbursement rates for home health care compared to hospitals will increase the shortage of qualified home care nurses, therapists, and aides.” Mark Baiada, Founder and President, Bayada Home Health Care

“Growth in home care services will continue, preferred both by patients, who would rather receive care while remaining at home, and for providers who can optimize the care they deliver, reducing costs and increasing value in many situations. As home care demand grows, I predict home health care providers will enable more innovative delivery tools, as well. It will be a year for putting good people and good technologies in the homes of our nation’s elders.”  —John A. Capasso, Executive Vice President, Continuing Care, Trinity Health

“I believe that we can expect a pro-growth environment which will allow more families to be able to pay for home care services. Legislation that reduces costs for employers—from the ACA to overtime—will mean more jobs, and allow providers to stabilize rates so more consumers can utilize these resources to assist their families as loved ones age and need care to remain safely at home.”  Shelly Sun, CEO BrightStar Care

“I think under the new administration, there’s still a lot to be understood, but from what I’ve seen so far, there’s a lot of opportunity for our industry to be front and center. I think we’ll get really good support for home care tax credits as well as over misclassification of workers. That is, home care companies trying to contract workers, which we feel is illegal, as it doesn’t meet IRS standards for what an independent contractor is … [Overall, I’m] very bullish on what’s going on in the industry.” Peter Ross, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Senior Helpers, President of the Home Care Association of America

Written by Amy Baxter and Tim Mullaney

Photo Credit: “Crystal Ball/Glaskugel” by Christian Schnettelker, CC BY 2.0

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Amy Baxter
Assistant Editor at Home Health Care News
When not writing about all things home health, Amy fulfills her lifelong dream of becoming a pirate by sailing in regattas and enjoying rum. Fun fact: she sailed 333 miles across Lake Michigan in the Chicago Yacht Club "Race to Mackinac."