Transitioning from hospital to home is a challenging process. Home healthcare, which includes care delivered by nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and home health aides, enables Medicare’s older patient population and the disabled community to return home to rehabilitate after leaving the hospital. Unfortunately, Medicare plans to significantly cut home healthcare again in 2024.
On November 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a -2.89% permanent cut to home health in its CY2024 Home Health Prospective Payment System (HH PPS) Final Rule, and plans billions in additional cuts to home healthcare in future years. Additionally, since 2020, billions in cuts have already been implemented, resulting in access to care issues for thousands of older Americans.
On top of last year’s nearly -4% cut, CMS’s decision to only partially mitigate their proposed cut to home health will cause further harm to patient access and create financial instability that will make it harder to provide care in the home. CMS again failed to address the harmful flaws in the agency’s payment rate methodology, which is projected to result in cuts totaling $25 billion over the next decade.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Medicare home healthcare program offers healthcare that is specifically designed to meet the needs of someone requiring clinically advanced services. With access to home health, beneficiaries receive clinically advanced, patient preferred care in the home.
We need help from Congress to do what Medicare should have done in the first place.
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Terri Sewell (AL-7) and Adrian Smith (NE-3) have introduced the Preserving Access to Home Health Act (S. 2137/H.R. 5159) to prevent the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from implementing these cuts.
Specifically, the bill is designed to address deep cuts made to home health by CMS that began this year and will continue until at least 2028. The legislation:
- Restricts CMS from making any additional cuts to home health.
- Requires MedPAC, which advises Congress on payment policy, to report to Congress the full analysis of the financial stability of the home health sector, including not just margins in the traditional Medicare program, but also margins on Medicaid and Medicare Advantage. This will ensure that the entire financial health of the home healthcare system is understood by policymakers.
The Partnership looks forward to working with leaders in Congress to block cuts to home health and stabilize the home health payment system in order to protect patient access.
See the impact of Medicare's home health cuts: