February 12, 2019

Senate Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation Urging Evidence-Based PDGM Changes

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Home Health Care News

Newly introduced bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate is targeting the widely opposed behavioral adjustments set to hit home health agencies next year under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). If passed, the legislation would require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to base Medicare reimbursement rates on observed evidence and data, instead of on assumed changes.

Introduced Monday by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Kennedy (R-La.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), the bill (S. 433) is similar to one of several PDGM opposition bills introduced last year.

However, key updates to this bill include fine-tuned language about “observed evidence” and phasing of payment changes, limiting losses or gains to 2% per year to ensure budget neutrality within 10 years.

PDGM was mandated to be budget neutral by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

CMS introduced PDGM last summer as a way to supposedly improve reimbursement for all types of patients eligible for home health benefits and remove perceived incentives to over-provide therapy services. Additionally, the model cuts the 60-day episode of care unit of payment to 30 days.

While PDGM is designed to improve common issues that exist under the current home health care Prospective Payment System (PPS), providers have criticized the model’s payment adjustments based on the behavioral assumptions, which could be inaccurate and unfair, they’ve cautioned.

If unchanged by the time PDGM takes effect in 2020, the behavioral assumptions could cost home health agencies a loss of about about $1 billion in reimbursements and threaten the industry, according to National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) President Bill Dombi and LHC Group (Nasdaq: LHCG) CEO Keith Myers, who also serves as chairman of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH).

Already, both Dombi and Myers have lauded S. 433 and the lawmakers behind it for working to mitigate the behavioral adjustment threat and have voiced their commitment to helping advance the legislation.

“Refining the PDGM approach is critically important to home health care for America’s growing senior population,” Myers said. “We strongly support this legislation, which ensures CMS uses actual data and observed evidence when making payment adjustments to properly align payment with patient characteristics and quality.”

Click here to see the full article on the Home Health Care News website.