October 10, 2018
Stabenow introduces legislation to improve home health
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow introduced federal legislation in an effort to improve home health payment reform to ensure beneficiary access to quality care services is not compromised for America’s growing senior population.
The Michigan Democrat is being praised by several agencies supporting seniors for the bill.
Across Michigan an estimated 142,000 senior and disabled homebound Medicare beneficiaries receive home healthcare services annually for skilled nursing or rehabilitative care.
Under current law, Medicare can alter payment for home care services based on assumptions that changes might happen. Stabenow’s bill, according to her press release, ensures a smooth transition to a new home health payment system, which is the most significant payment change to the Medicare home health benefit in more than 20 years, by requiring Medicare to change home health reimbursement only after behavior changes by home health agencies (HHAs) actually occur. The bill further protects Medicare home health services from dramatic and unsustainable cuts in the future by ensuring changes are phased-in at a ceiling of no more than two percent per year to mitigate the risk of service disruptions for Medicare beneficiaries, according to the release.
“Michigan’s home health community applauds Senator Stabenow for championing this legislation and her enduring support of Michigan’s home health patient and provider communities,” said Barry Cargill, President & CEO of the Michigan Home Care & Hospice Association.
“The legislative reforms introduced by Senator Stabenow will ensure home healthcare services for senior and disabled beneficiaries will not be disrupted as a result of unfair and arbitrary Medicare cuts.”
Stabenow’s legislation, she said, will further protect home health beneficiaries and providers in Michigan and nationwide, from a 6.42 percent cut — equaling more than $1 billion annually — starting in 2020 proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The bill also encourages the expanded delivery of home health services to more Medicare patients through Medicare Advantage plans and innovative new models under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations (CMMI).
By doing so, more Medicare beneficiaries will have access to cost effective and patient preferred home health.