Transitioning from hospital to home is a difficult process. Home healthcare, which provides 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 in 2024.
In June, Medicare announced plans to implement cuts totaling -9.36% to the home healthcare program starting next year. These new cuts (on top of those already in place) will total as much as $25 billion over the next 10 years. The home health program will not survive these severe cuts.
Home healthcare is already experiencing a 3.9% cut that began in 2023. New cuts will worsen troubling trends that are already making it harder for Medicare patients to leave the hospital and go home with care that helps them recover and rehabilitate.
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 proper funding, it can provide clinically advanced, patient preferred care in the home to everyone who needs it.
Fortunately, Congress is taking action.
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Terri Sewell (AL-7) and Adrian Smith (NE-3) recently 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 dire 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 cuts to home health.
- Requires MedPAC, which advises Congress on payment policy, to gain a full understanding of the economics of the home healthcare system, including how the Medicare program, the Medicaid program, and the Medicare Advantage program all contribute to a system.
The Partnership urges all Members of Congress to support home healthcare and the ability of patients to return home after a hospitalization or medical event to recover and rehabilitate in the setting they most want and prefer.
See the impact of Medicare's proposed home health cuts: