Bipartisan legislation would prevent the implementation of steep Medicare cuts to home health services totaling $18 billion over the next decade
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (The Partnership) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) today applauded bipartisan lawmakers in the U.S. Senate for introducing new legislation to prevent a newly proposed 7.69% permanent cut, and an additional $2 billion in "clawback" cuts, to home healthcare services included in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) for CY2023.
Introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), The Preserving Access to Home Health Act of 2022 S. 4605 would delay the 7.69% payment cut proposed for 2023, which would total $1.33 billion in 2023 alone. The bill would also block additional cuts of more than $2 billion as soon as 2024 due to an unjustified "clawback" of payments for critical home healthcare services delivered to seniors and people with disabilities during the pandemic. Estimates show Medicare's proposed cuts will total $18 billion to providers over the next 10 years.
"We applaud Senators Stabenow and Collins for introducing this legislation, which will protect home health patients and providers from extreme cuts and help ensure continued access to safe, patient-preferred home healthcare for millions of American seniors and individuals with disabilities," said Joanne Cunningham, CEO of the Partnership. "While we continue to educate CMS on the overall impacts of their proposed cuts, we commend lawmakers in Congress for proactively offering legislative solutions to these harmful payment adjustments."
"We are honored to have the support of Senator Stabenow and Senator Collins for many years. Their support in this new battle with Medicare will help ensure that home health agencies can continue to deliver high quality care that is accessible throughout the country. This is a battle for the future of health care at home and we thank the senators for their leadership," said William A. Dombi, President, National Association for Home Care & Hospice. "The legislation will provide essential protection from the devastating rate cut proposed by CMS. We sincerely hope that CMS will support this legislation and recognize the need to work with us to avoid the harm that the current proposal would inflict."
The Preserving Access to Home Health Act of 2022 will make the following policy changes:
Prevent CMS from implementing any permanent or temporary adjustment to home health prospective payment rates prior to 2026. This would delay cuts currently proposed by CMS for 2023 and beyond, allowing more time for CMS to refine its proposed approach to determining budget neutrality in home health.
Ensure that any adjustments CMS determines to be necessary to offset increases or decreases in estimated aggregate expenditures are made by 2032, such that no cuts would be delayed beyond the end of the budget window.
The legislation is intended to be self-implementing. It would become effective as of the date of enactment and includes instructions allowing for implementation by program instruction or other means.
Home health leaders have consistently outlined concerns related to CMS' methodology in proposing these payment adjustments while also highlighting significant increases in labor and supply costs across the home health community. A labor cost survey of home health providers conducted in August 2021 concluded that wages and home health industry expenses have increased dramatically since 2019, a trend that continues to worsen as inflation hits its highest point in decades.
"Home health providers are facing enormous pressures today, including historically high costs of delivering quality home healthcare, so these severe and unjust cuts could not come at a worse time," added Cunningham. "We look forward to working with lawmakers in Congress to build support for this legislation to ensure Medicare's proposed cuts are not implemented as proposed."
About the Partnership
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare represents community- and hospital-based home healthcare agencies across the U.S. and is dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the quality, efficiency and integrity of home healthcare. To learn more, visit www.pqhh.org.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is a nonprofit organization that represents the nation's 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. NAHC also advocates for the more than two million nurses, therapists, aides, and other caregivers employed by such organizations to provide in-home services to some 12 million Americans each year who are infirm, chronically ill, and disabled. To learn more, visit www.nahc.org.
SOURCE Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare and National Association for Home Care & Hospice