September 26, 2017

Home Health Leaders Applaud Bipartisan Group of Senators for Urging HHS/CMS to Not Move Forward with Proposed Home Health Groupings Model

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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 — today applauded a group of bipartisan U.S. Senators, led by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), for urging Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, MD and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to not move forward with the agency’s proposed rule on the Home Health Groupings Model (HHGM) until affected stakeholders can fully analyze and understand the impact of the proposed changes.

Forty-nine bipartisan Senators signed a letter to Secretary Price and Administrator Verma asking HHS and CMS to keep HHGM out of the Calendar Year 2018 Home Health Prospective Payments System Final Rule and provide additional information about the development of the model’s cost estimates.

“We have heard from a number of stakeholders who are concerned that the proposed rule lacks sufficient information and data points to allow home health agencies to accurately estimate the impact of the proposed HHGM,” the Senators write. “It is important that those most affected by the proposed rule have the opportunity, as well as the necessary information, to evaluate any consequences prior to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) finalizing the proposed reforms.”

In closing, the Senators write, “We ask that CMS not include the HHGM proposal in its final CY 2018 Home Health Prospective Payment System rulemaking and instead work with relevant stakeholders, including home health agencies and providers, and patient groups, as you develop and implement payment reforms.”

The Partnership and home health stakeholders nationwide have expressed significant concerns with the proposed HHGM. As it is currently proposed, HHGM would drastically alter Medicare’s home health payment system, putting 3.5 million beneficiaries at risk for care disruptions. It would also unevenly distribute payments across the system while cutting home health reimbursements by another $950 million in 2019 alone. Seniors living in rural and underserved areas would be disproportionately affected by these cuts, as would high-quality providers who make critical investments in efficiency and cost-saving technologies.

“The home health community commends Senators Rubio and Nelson and their Senate colleagues for recognizing the value home health adds to the Medicare program and for standing up for the millions of vulnerable seniors who rely on the quality medical services we provide in the home setting patients prefer,” said Keith Myers, Chairman of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “While we are extremely concerned about the impact HHGM would have on the delivery of home health and strongly urge withdrawal of the proposal, we are also optimistic about our ability to find a solution if sufficient time is provided for us to work collaboratively with CMS on a payment approach that protects patient access to care and supports better efficiencies within the home health benefit.”

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jonny Isakson (R-GA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (R-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), David Perdue (R-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Todd Young (R-IN) also signed the letter.