133 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently expressed their deep concern with proposed Medicare home health funding cuts in a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.
In June, CMS released the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) proposed rule for 2016, in which the agency proposes to cut an additional $350 million from the Medicare program’s home healthcare benefit on top of the 14 percent rebasing cut imposed on the home health benefit in January 2014.
Cuts of this nature are troubling to lawmakers and the home health community alike.
If enacted, the cuts would put small and rural home health agencies – and their patients—at greatest risk. In areas where there is only one agency, data suggest closures will likely force patients to seek care in more expensive institutional settings or, far worse, avoid treatment all together. As data from Avalere shows, the Medicare beneficiaries served by home health are older, sicker, poorer and are more likely to be female, a minority, and disabled than all other beneficiaries in the Medicare program combined.
We applaud Representatives Greg Walden, Tom Price, Earl Blumenhauer and James McGovern for their leadership on this important senior care issue and thank their 129 House colleagues for taking action to protect seniors’ access to vital home health services. We look forward to our continued work with both Congress and CMS to ensure policies are put forth that protect cost-effective and clinically advanced healthcare services for seniors in the setting they prefer – their home.