January 27, 2021

Our Home Health Regulatory Priorities for 2021

It might be a new year, new Congress, and new Administration, but our priorities haven’t changed. Now more than ever, it is important to keep advancing policies to ensure patient access to high quality home health care.

To that end, the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (the Partnership) will focus on three key administrative and regulatory priorities in 2021.

1. Ensuring appropriate Medicare payments to providers

In order to ensure that vulnerable patients can continue accessing the care they need from the comfort and safety or their own homes, it is critical that home health agencies and professionals remain financially stable. Given the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that providers are reimbursed fairly so that they can continue serving patients in communities across the country. Maintaining the sustainability in our sector means correcting the 4.36% behavioral assumption reimbursement cut made by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2020 and extending the exemption from sequestration.

The Partnership will also study the impact on patients as a result of increased enrollment in Medicare Advantage and expanded supplemental benefits for Medicare’s home health population.

2. Supporting care delivery during the COVID-19 public health emergency

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for home health providers. In response, Congress and CMS have granted important waivers, flexibilities, and provider relief funding, which helps us meet the growing demand for home-based care. The Partnership not only supports the continued extension of the public health emergency (PHE) and the use of these waivers and flexibilities throughout 2021, but also for the permanent adoption of a number of these waivers going forward. In addition, the Partnership will continue to support the use of relief funds for home health providers for assistance with expenses incurred or lost revenue. Finally, the Partnership urges CMS to further delay implementation of new demonstrations, such as the Review Choice Demonstration, until the public health emergency (PHE) ends.

3. Achieving Medicare payment and benefits reform

As CMS weighs new policy approaches, the Partnership supports improvements in the regulatory framework of the Medicare home health benefit. We will engage with the new Administration to advocate for flexibility under the “homebound” requirement, broader coverage of telecommunications services, and an expanded services package to allow more post-acute patients to receive care at home.

While healthcare policymakers continue to develop a unified payment system for post-acute care, the Partnership will keep working to inform the process for developing the new system, the surrounding policy framework, and the technical design of the new payment model by highlighting the value proposition of a post-acute care system that supports improved patient access to home health services.

To read more about the Partnership’s administrative and regulatory priorities in 2021, CLICK HERE.