Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare Applauds VA Proposal to Eliminate Copayments for Telehealth Care Services

April 5, 2012
Contact: Emily White

Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare Applauds VA Proposal to Eliminate Copayments for Telehealth Care Services

Home healthcare leaders call the VA Home Based Primary Care Program a “model for healthcare delivery in America”

WASHINGTON, DC — The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare today expressed strong support for a proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to remove barriers to home healthcare by exempting in-home video telehealth care from having a required copayment for patients participating in the Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) Program. The comment period for the proposed rule is scheduled to close today.

The HBPC program was created in 1972 to serve chronically ill Veterans with comprehensive (rather than fragmented) care provided by interdisciplinary teams in patients' own homes. Since the program's inception, home healthcare has been a core component of HBPC and has enabled the delivery of skilled, coordinated, and cost-effective services in the home.

The HBPC program's focus on providing clinically advanced care in the home has enabled it to achieve unprecedented outcomes. Specifically, according to a July 2011 presentation to the National Health Policy Forum, HBPC has reduced inpatient hospital days by 62 percent and long term care days by 88 percent, resulting in a 24 percent decrease in total healthcare costs for HBPC participants.

"No Medicare reform plan I'm aware of contemplates a 24 percent net cost reduction," said Chairman Billy Tauzin, senior counsel to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "Through its successful Home Based Primary Care program, the Veterans Administration has shown the way."

Due to the clinical and fiscal achievements of the HBPC program, the VA is eliminating barriers that might prevent veterans from participating in it. The VA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) is the latest example and states, "This would remove a barrier that may have previously discouraged veterans from choosing to use in-home video telehealth as a viable medical care option. In turn, the VA hopes this makes the home a preferred place of care, whenever medically appropriate and possible."

"We applaud the VA for recognizing that copayments can shift patients to more costly settings and increase healthcare costs," stated Chairman Tauzin. "By eliminating this counterproductive barrier, the VA is making it possible for more Veterans to receive clinically advanced, cost effective care in their own homes."

The VA HBPC has been characterized by leading researchers as "a model to emulate for the care of persons with complex, chronic disabling conditions, improving quality without added cost, and maximizing their independence through comprehensive longitudinal interdisciplinary care delivered in their homes."

"We applaud the VA for the success of the HBPC program, which has achieved extraordinary clinical and fiscal outcomes through expanded use of home healthcare services. The VA's HBPC Program deservedly serves as a model for improved healthcare delivery in America," commented Chairman Tauzin.

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