December 6, 2013

Home Health Sector Supports American Job Growth Again in November

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Washington, DC – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) November jobs report released today, home healthcare generated 11,800 new jobs in November, representing nearly half (45%) of all ambulatory healthcare jobs added last month. The new job numbers again demonstrate the value of the Medicare home health sector as one of the nation’s leading job creators.

Home health leaders warn, however, that new cuts to Medicare home health put this continued job and economic growth at grave risk. The Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) Final Rule, released November 22 by the Obama Administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), cuts Medicare home health payments by 3.5 percent annually for four years (2014-2017), thereby imposing an unprecedented total rebasing cut of 14 percent.

In their Final HHPPS Rule, the Obama Administration cut Medicare home health by the fullest extent under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), putting nearly half of the nation’s home health agencies – serving 1.4 million seniors and supporting nearly 500,000 jobs – at risk for bankruptcy, closure and consolidation. On page 117 of the HHPPS final rule, CMS itself concedes “approximately 40 percent” of all home health providers nationwide will have negative margins in CY 2017 as a direct result of this rule.

“We are deeply concerned that the unprecedented 14 percent Medicare cut stemming from Obamacare will not only halt the significant job growth that home health has supported over the last year, but also reverse this positive trend. Nearly 500,000 home health professionals are currently employed by agencies that are in jeopardy of bankruptcy due to the Administration’s decision to cut home health at the maximum level permissible under the ACA,” stated Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.

Home health advocates have warned that such deep cuts will limit patient access to skilled home healthcare for the Medicare program’s most vulnerable patient population. Home health beneficiaries are documented as being older, sicker, poorer and more likely to be a minority than other beneficiaries.

“Today’s job numbers confirm that more American seniors seek home health services, which are clinically advanced and cost-effective. As a result, we must have the skilled job force to provide the quality healthcare our aging population demands and deserves,” added Berger. “Unfortunately, the Administration’s decision to drastically reduce Medicare home health funding significantly impedes our community’s ability to do so.”

The Medicare home health benefit is widely recognized as a clinically advanced, cost-effective and patient preferred means for meeting the care needs of the growing Medicare population, which increases by approximately 10,000 American seniors every day. Medicare home health services are delivered to approximately 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide by more than 1.3 million home health professionals.