June 17, 2022

Partnership Leaders Express Deep Concern in Response to CMS Proposed Home Health Payment Rule for 2023

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Washington, D.C. –– The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare is deeply concerned with the 7.69% payment cut to home healthcare services included in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Home Health Prospective Payment System (“HHPPS”) Proposed Rule for Calendar Year (CY) 2023, which would undermine the delivery of high-quality home healthcare services to millions of American seniors. Despite the risks posed to patient access and care delivery by the permanent 7.69% payment cut proposed by CMS, the agency is forecasting even greater cuts in the future.

“Considering that access to home-based care has become increasingly important to the health and safety of American seniors, it is very troubling that CMS would propose such steep rate cuts for next year and potentially even deeper cuts in the future,“ said Joanne Cunningham, CEO of the Partnership. “If implemented as proposed, this payment adjustment will jeopardize the stability of this vital sector and risk seniors’ access to Medicare home health services.”

The Partnership is deeply disappointed that CMS did not take into account detailed technical recommendations made by the home health community to ensure more fair and justified payment adjustments. Instead, it appears CMS has maintained its previous flawed methodology for calculating home health payment adjustments, resulting in the proposed 7.69% payment cut for 2023.

“While we will continue to analyze the impacts of the Proposed Rule and CMS’ methodology for rationalizing these adjustments, it is disappointing that the agency chose to disregard the thoughtful and data-driven technical recommendations the community has discussed with CMS,” added Cunningham.

Since CMS implemented the new home health payment model, the Partnership has consistently outlined concerns related to CMS’ budget neutrality methodology while also highlighting significant increases in labor and supply costs across the home health community. A labor cost survey of Partnership members conducted in August 2021 concluded that wages and home health industry expenses have increased dramatically since 2019, a trend that continues to worsen as inflation hits its highest point in decades.

Medicare home health providers continue to face numerous challenges impacting the delivery of care, such as staffing shortages due to the pandemic and the surging costs of labor, fuel, and medical supplies. Further, home health providers are having to deliver care under a variety of new safety measures, including more complex infection control processes and procedures.

“CMS’ continued cuts to home health are particularly troubling considering the unique environment in which our community delivers care. Unlike other providers, our clinicians have to transport themselves to patients’ homes and this means that rising gas prices have a direct negative effect on the cost of care. A cut of this magnitude will have an immediate impact on home health care providers’ ability to care for seniors who need healthcare services provided in their home,” added Cunningham.

The Partnership will continue to review the HHPPS Proposed Rule and provide formal comments to CMS within the comment period.

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