Veterans Affairs Eliminates Copayment to Increase Patient Access to Skilled Home Healthcare

May 7, 2012
Contact: Emily White

Veterans Affairs Eliminates Copayment to Increase Patient Access to Skilled Home Healthcare

-­ Home healthcare leaders laud VA final rule and Home Based Primary Care program -­

WASHINGTON, DC — The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare today praised the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs final rule eliminating copayments for tele-health services for Veterans receiving skilled home healthcare through the agency's Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) program. With this step, the VA has removed a barrier to Veteran and dependent use of clinically- and cost-effective home healthcare.

"The VA should be commended for removing the financial burden of a copayment, which inadvertently created a barrier to clinically advanced, patient preferred home healthcare for America's Veterans. The VA continues to lead the way in advancing patient-centered healthcare policies that are improving patient care and reducing healthcare spending without shifting the cost to Veterans," said Chairman Billy Tauzin, senior counsel to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "The VA's Home Based Primary Care program merits close consideration by lawmakers as a model for future Medicare reforms."

Research has shown that mandating copayments on home health results in a variety of unintended consequences including cost shifting and increased healthcare costs resulting from greater use of inpatient care services. Beneficiaries, when faced with a costly copayment for home health services, may forego needed care and, as a result, experience an adverse health event requiring treatment in an institutional setting. 

The VA HBPC focuses on seniors with complex, chronic disabling conditions who are at high risk for hospitalization readmission or nursing home placement. By providing in-home comprehensive longitudinal care delivered by skilled interdisciplinary teams, HBPC enables Veterans and their dependents to receive the care they need without having to leave their homes for more costly institutional care.

The HBPC program has achieved unprecedented outcomes. Indeed, the Veterans Administration has documented that HBPC has reduced inpatient hospital days by 62 percent, long term care days by 88 percent, and hospital readmissions by 21 percent. According to the VA's analysis, HBPC has resulted in a stunning 24 percent decrease in total healthcare costs for HBPC participants.

"We have an opportunity to achieve similar outcomes by advancing Medicare policies that mirror the VA's successful approach, which has proven clinically effective for patients and cost effective for taxpayers," added Tauzin. "As lawmakers continue to look for ways to improve senior care and reduce Medicare costs, they need look no further than the Veterans Administration for a model that works extraordinarily well."

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