December 23, 2022
Home Health Leaders Commend Congress for Inclusion of Transparency Provision in End-of-Year Omnibus Package
Washington, DC – The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (the Partnership) today commended bipartisan lawmakers in the Congress for passing omnibus government funding legislation, including provisions to strengthen the disclosure, accountability, and transparency of the Medicare home health payment rate-setting process used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The Medicare home health provision will also require direct stakeholder engagement to ensure full data transparency and understanding regarding the CMS methodology used in the new home health payment system.
“The Partnership applauds the leadership of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and her commitment to the home health community, which helped to ensure the inclusion of the Medicare home health transparency provision in the year-end legislative package,” said Joanne Cunningham, CEO of the Partnership. “We look forward to working with Senator Stabenow and the new 118th Congress to build upon this effort to further improve the Medicare home health program.”
The Partnership expressed disappointment that provisions of Senator Stabenow’s legislation to pause implementation of CMS’s concerning payment reductions for a year were not included in the final package. “We greatly appreciate Senator Stabenow’s broader efforts to secure long term stability in the home health payment system by advocating for a delay in the implementation of permanent cuts to the payment system. We hope to work in the new Congress with Senator Stabenow and others who support the home health program on this effort,” stated Cunningham.
The Partnership also commended Congress for delaying the implementation of the 4% PAYGO sequestration cut until 2025, which will provide needed relief to providers struggling to maintain care services under the strain of new payment cuts, increased inflation costs, and mounting staffing challenges.
In October, CMS finalized a permanent 7.85% cut to Medicare home health payments, which estimates suggest will total more than $18 billion in cuts over the next ten years when combined with other cuts forecasted by CMS. While CMS finalized a short term phase-in of the cuts in 2023, home health leaders predict the permanent 7.85% cut will have negative repercussions for home health patients and their providers as soon as 2024 and beyond.
The Partnership had previously cautioned CMS against such deep cuts in their comments to the agency in August. Patient and consumer advocacy groups, including Patients Rising Now, also raised the alarm over Medicare’s cuts to home health urging lawmakers in Congress to pass the Preserving Access to Home Health Act of 2022 (S. 4605/H.R. 8581).