NAHC Warns of Home Health Cuts up to $6 Billion in Tax Extenders

Medicare tax extenders could contain major cuts to the home health care payment system, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) alerted its members in a short message last week.

NAHC warned that spending cuts could “be in the range of $3 billion to $6 billion over the next 10 years,” the alert read.

The Medicare tax extenders, which are approved by Congress to fund short-term Medicare projects and demonstrations to keep the program stable, have yet to be passed, and no details have been available on specific funding measures. The Medicare extenders expire at the end of the year, and the new package could be approved at the beginning of 2018.  NAHC’s lobbying and intelligence gathering efforts uncovered the possible cuts, NAHC President Bill Dombi told Home Health Care News.

However, NAHC’s lobbying has led the association to believe the extenders package includes cuts that “are disproportionate to what other sectors are facing,” NAHC said.

In November, the House Ways and Means Committee stated it had reached a bipartisan agreement relating to Medicare extenders, though the briefing held few details.

The agreement includes “modifications to home health agency payment, including MedPAC recommendations and building blocks to payment reform,” the committee outlined. MedPAC, or the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, is tasked with recommending payment rate adjustments for the Medicare fee-for-service payment system.

Those reforms could be anything from payment cuts—per MedPAC’s recommendations to Congress—to further payment reform models such as the home health groupings model (HHGM).

“Too often Congress ends up in a rush to pass important legislation at year’s end,” Dombi said in the alert. “We must make our voices heard in great numbers to ensure proper passage of an extension of the Medicare rural add-on without unnecessary costs and with due regard for sensible payment reform measures. I encourage you all to send a strong message to Congress to protect home health care.”

Written by Amy Baxter

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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."

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