Home Healthcare Community Members Commend Use of Surety Bonds

October 1, 2012
Contact: Emily White

Home Healthcare Community Members Commend Use of Surety Bonds

OIG Report Consistent with Proposed Program Integrity Solutions

Washington, DC- In response to a report released today by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare reiterated its support for the implementation of surety bonds for home health agencies. The recent report mirrors a program integrity proposal advanced by the Partnership to address isolated pockets of wasteful and fraudulent spending.

The Partnership, a national coalition representing more than 1,500 community- and hospital-based home health agencies nationwide, has developed targeted policy solutions to improve the integrity of the Medicare program and protect innocent seniors from across-the-board cuts and copayments.

The OIG recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implement a surety bond of more than $50,000 for newly enrolled home health agencies. The Partnership has likewise proposed a $100,000 surety bond for new providers beginning in 2013 in order to ensure that they can demonstrate to CMS they are serious about taking care of seniors and have the operational capability to do so. Just as important, the Partnership's proposal doesn't burden existing providers in good standing with CMS and provides exceptions to ensure beneficiary access to care, especially in underserved areas.

Previous policy solutions proposed by the home health community have proven successful in achieving Medicare savings through targeted reforms. For example, the community's 2009 recommendation that a cap be placed on outlier payments is now estimated to have saved Medicare more than $850 million in 2010 alone — an achievement that is equivalent to more than $11 billion in Medicare savings over 10 years.

"The OIG report underscores that targeted mechanisms can be effective tools for improving Medicare program integrity," stated Eric Berger, CEO for the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "Targeted reforms that prevent fraud and abuse while improving efficiency and outcomes are critical to securing beneficiary access to the high-quality, cost-effective home healthcare services they need."

Nearly 3.5 million Americans receive Medicare home healthcare services, and the anticipated demand for skilled home healthcare services is expected to rise due to projected growth in the nation's senior population, as well as the preference of the vast majority of seniors to receive care in their own home. Many healthcare treatments that were once only available in a hospital or other institutional setting are now being safely and effectively provided in patients' homes by skilled clinicians.

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