Michigan Home Health Leader Applauds Introduction of Medicare Home Health Reform Bill

July 21, 2014
Contact: Ellen Almond

Michigan Home Health Leader Applauds Introduction of Medicare Home Health Reform Bill

SAVE Medicare Home Health Act provides critical relief to protect vulnerable seniors, healthcare providers, and jobs across Michigan’s home health community

JACKSON – The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare – a coalition of the nation’s leading innovators of home healthcare dedicated to improving the integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare – today applauded the introduction of Medicare reform legislation that would replace deep funding cuts with targeted reforms to safeguard Michigan’s home health patients and providers while improving the quality of home health services.

On January 1, a 14 percent four-year Medicare cut known as “rebasing” was implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS has projected that the cut will force “approximately 40 percent” of all home health providers to suffer a net loss by 2017. According to an Avalere Health analysis, the rebasing cut would leave 253 of Michigan’s small home health agencies facing bankruptcy or closure, directly threatening care for 68,000 home health patients in Michigan and employment for 14,300 home health professionals statewide.

The Securing Access Via Excellence (SAVE) Medicare Home Health Act (H.R. 5110) – introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives – would repeal the rebasing cuts and utilize hospital readmission reform to achieve savings by improving care for Medicare beneficiaries and reducing avoidable spending. The new legislation is essential to safeguarding the delivery of home healthcare services across the state of Michigan.

“This legislation presents thoughtful reforms that will protect Michigan seniors who need home healthcare and the home health providers on which they depend,” said William Deary, Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes Caring Home Health & Hospice. “Unlike larger, more sophisticated and financially stable organizations such as Great Lakes Caring, small home health providers in Michigan and across the United States face the real risk of bankruptcy as a result of the rebasing cuts. That is why we support the SAVE Medicare Home Health Act - because it will protect those vulnerable providers and the seniors they serve.”

In place of the rebasing cut, the legislation would establish a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program, which is modeled on the reform recently enacted for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The SAVE Medicare Home Health Act’s VBP program would reduce hospital readmissions with incentives that reward positive outcomes. In this manner, the bill would enable seniors to remain in their homes rather than return to institutional settings and simultaneously achieve significant savings for the Medicare program.

“The SAVE Medicare Home Health Act is a patient-centered approach for achieving Medicare savings which will improve the delivery of home healthcare as a whole,” added Mr. Deary. “We are thankful to the many lawmakers who are working to protect seniors’ access to skilled home healthcare services and we look forward to working with them to ensure that these reforms become law ultimately preserving and protecting the Medicare Trust Fund for future generations.”

The SAVE Medicare Home Health Act is sponsored by Representatives Greg Walden and Tom Price. Additional cosponsors on the bill include Representatives Charles Boustany, Sean Duffy, Renee Ellmers, Cory Gardner, Sam Graves, Tom Latham, David McKinley, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Erik Paulsen, Glenn Thompson and Don Young.


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