July 28, 2022
Home Health Leaders Applaud House Introduction of Bipartisan Preserving Access to Home Health Act
Representatives Sewell and Buchanan introduce bill to delay implementation of Medicare cuts to home health services in 2023
Washington, DC – The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (the Partnership) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) today commended Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) for introducing legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent a newly proposed 7.69% permanent cut to Medicare’s home health benefit, and an additional $2 billion in “clawback” cuts, to home healthcare services included in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) for CY2023.
The Preserving Access to Home Health Act of 2022 would delay Medicare’s proposed 7.69% cut for 2023, which would total $1.33 billion in 2023 alone. The bill would also block additional cuts of more than $2 billion as soon as 2024 due to an unjustified “clawback” of payments for critical home healthcare services delivered to seniors and people with disabilities in 2020 and 2021. Estimates show Medicare’s proposed cuts will total $18.15 billion to providers over the next decade, which could put an estimated 44% of home health agencies at risk of closure.
Specifically, the bill will make the following policy changes:
- Prevent CMS from implementing any permanent or temporary adjustment to home health prospective payment rates prior to 2026. This would delay cuts currently proposed by CMS for 2023 and beyond, allowing more time for CMS to refine its proposed approach to determining budget neutrality in home health.
- Ensure that any adjustments CMS determines to be necessary to offset increases or decreases in estimated aggregate expenditures are made by 2032, such that no cuts would be delayed beyond the end of the budget window.
- The legislation is intended to be self-implementing. It would become effective as of the date of enactment and includes instructions allowing for implementation by program instruction or other means.
“We thank Representatives Sewell and Buchanan for their ongoing commitment to home health and their leadership in introducing the Preserving Access to Home Health Act, which is urgently needed to protect home health from Medicare’s unjust and reckless proposed cuts,” said Joanne Cunningham, CEO of the Partnership. “We strongly support this legislative solution and will work diligently with Representatives Sewell and Buchanan, as well as Senators Stabenow and Collins, to enlist broad support for this bill among lawmakers, provider stakeholders, and the Medicare community.”
“We are very grateful for the support from Congresswoman Sewell and Congressman Buchanan. Their legislation will provide essential protection from the improper payment rate cut that is proposed by Medicare. Hopefully, during the period of pause CMS will recognize that better options exist than to send 44% of home health agencies into a high risk of closure,” said William A. Dombi, President of NAHC. “The future of home health services is at risk. That means the future of health care is at risk as well. Great thanks goes out to Terri Sewell and Vern Buchanan for taking action.”
The Senate companion to this bill (S. 4605) was introduced on July 25 by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
About the Partnership
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare represents community- and hospital-based home healthcare agencies across the U.S. and is dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the quality, efficiency and integrity of home healthcare. To learn more, visit www.pqhh.org.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is a nonprofit organization that represents the nation’s 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. NAHC also advocates for the more than two million nurses, therapists, aides, and other caregivers employed by such organizations to provide in-home services to some 12 million Americans each year who are infirm, chronically ill, and disabled. To learn more, visit www.nahc.org.