October 4, 2017

Georgia Lawmakers Urge HHS to Withdraw Home Health Groupings Model

Posted in: 

Washington, D.C. — The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (Partnership) — a coalition of home health providers dedicated to improving the integrity, quality and efficiency of home healthcare for our nation’s seniors — thanks seven Georgia Members of Congress for recently sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging the withdrawal of the proposed Home Health Groupings Model (HHGM).

Georgia Representatives Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-1), A. Drew Ferguson IV, DMD (R-3), Rob Woodall (R-7), Austin Scott (R-8), Doug Collins (R-9), Rick W. Allen (R-12) and Tom Graves (R-14) sent a letter to HHS stating, “We ask that you work with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan that benefits seniors and provides access to home health services and to withdraw this policy in its current form. Too many Georgians and Americans depend on home care to see it disrupted.”

Bipartisan lawmakers, home health leaders, patient advocates and stakeholders from across the healthcare sector have expressed concern that HHGM would harm patient access to patient-preferred home health. The HHGM, if implemented, would completely overhaul the current home health payment system, cause enormous disruption in the field and negatively impact patient access.

“While we understand the intention to better align Medicare payments with care needs and patient categories, we are concerned this large payment overhaul does not accurately understand the impact it will have on patients and providers. As our main concern remains patient access, we believe this HHGM could hinder the delivery of home health services to seniors and could result in a lower quality of care or limited access to these vital services,” the lawmakers wrote to HHS.

The HHGM would replace a 17-year payment model in a non-budget neutral manner with dramatic affects at the provider level, including a $950 million cut in 2019 alone. The HHGM would base payment amounts on an untested model that relies on certain patient characteristics that have not been determined to be valid or reliable indicators of care needs. It would also significantly increase administrative burden by requiring providers to bill twice as frequently and manage patient care in a framework inconsistent with the payment system.

“We commend these Georgia lawmakers for advising HHS to withdraw the HHGM. Since HHGM was developed with no input from the provider or patient communities, we hope that HHS will remove this policy from the Final Rule and work with stakeholders, as the lawmakers advise, to create payment reforms that protect access to home health,” said Keith Myers, Chairman of the Partnership.