February 10, 2016

Home Healthcare Leaders Oppose President Obama’s Proposal to Reduce Medicare Payments and Increase Patient Copayments

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Washington, DC – Leaders in the home health community expressed disappointment in response to President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal released today, which calls for the re-imposition of a copayment on Medicare home health beneficiaries and additional cuts to the home health benefit. Data show that reinstituting beneficiary cost sharing policies would jeopardize seniors’ access to quality skilled home healthcare.

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare — a coalition of leading home health providers dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the program integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare for our nation’s seniors — instead advocates for program integrity, value-based purchasing, and post-acute care bundling reforms that save Medicare dollars without burdening vulnerable seniors with high out-of-pocket costs and threatening their access to vital healthcare services.

The President’s 2017 Budget Proposal seeks to establish a copayment of $100 starting in 2020 for new Medicare home health beneficiaries. However, the Partnership notes that Congress saw fit to repeal beneficiary cost sharing for home healthcare patients in the past because it failed to reduce healthcare costs and forced patients to seek care in more expensive institutional settings.

“History has shown us that reinstituting a copayment on millions of seniors already deemed vulnerable will not control healthcare costs or save money, but will force seniors out of the home and into healthcare settings that increase costs,” stated Keith Myers, Chairman of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “We regret that copayments and cuts were included in the budget and hope instead to work with lawmakers to create common-sense policy solutions that combine program integrity and value-based reforms that focus on patient care while reducing costs to Medicare and taxpayers alike.”

Data compiled by Avalere Health reveal that Medicare’s home health beneficiaries are older, sicker, poorer and are more likely to be female, a minority, and disabled than all other beneficiaries in the Medicare program combined.

To further advance reforms in the delivery of home healthcare, the Partnership strongly supports legislative measures that replace across-the-board cuts with policies that reduce hospital readmission rates, implement bundled payments to incentivize coordinated and efficient care, and prevent the payment of aberrant and fraudulent claims.

“We are all working toward the same goal of sustainable and accessible healthcare,” added Myers. “Patient-focused policies will help secure the Medicare program’s fiscal future while ensuring that our nation’s seniors are able to continue utilizing the cost effective, clinically advanced and patient preferred home healthcare upon which 3.5 million homebound seniors depend.