July 11, 2019

Home Health Care Leaders Visit Capitol Hill to Urge Lawmakers to Support Home Health for America’s Seniors

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WASHINGTON – Today members from the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare and the Council of State Home Care & Hospice Associations are visiting lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ask them for their support of the bipartisan Home Health Payment Innovation Act (S. 433 & H.R. 2573). This legislation would ensure payment policies are refined to ensure continued and consistent access to Medicare home health services, which senior and disabled Americans depend upon to remain in their own homes.

Currently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to implement a new payment model for home health services in 2020 known as the Patient Driven Groupings Model or PDGM. The new payment system aims to better align patient characteristics with a refined coding system, all while achieving budget neutrality. Regrettably, CMS has incorporated a 6.42 percent behavioral assumption payment cut, beginning at the onset of the new system, on January 1, 2020. This assumption-based cut translates to a $1 billion reduction in home health payments in 2020 alone, which could threaten access to vital care for millions of seniors. The Home Health Payment Innovation Act would achieve budget neutrality while also requiring behavioral adjustments to be based on real, actual changes in provider behavior.

“We depend upon our elected officials in Congress to fight for us, our patient population and the type of care individuals want – and deserve – as they get older. I hope today’s fly-in results in additional lawmaker support for this bipartisan legislation. Members of Congress can safeguard Medicare home healthcare by adding their names to this bill and passing the Home Health Payment Innovation Act this year to refine the PDGM payment model before it takes effect next year,” said Tim Rogers, Chair of the Council of State Home Care & Hospice Associations.

The Partnership and the Council applaud lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have co-sponsored this critical legislation. Participants in today’s fly-in – representing 22 States – are asking lawmakers to  co-sponsor the bipartisan Home Health Payment Innovation Act, which would ensure that any behavioral assumption rate reductions are rooted in observed data and evidence, rather than conjecture about how providers might behave in the new payment model. This bill also allows for a smooth transition of the new payment system, by limiting losses or gains to providers of no more than 2 percent per year. These protections will offer stability in the home health system and ensure that patients will be able to continue to receive services in the cost-effective home setting and avoid costly rehospitalizations and more expensive care alternatives.