Abraham, Sewell lead bipartisan coalition to preserve home health
WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-La., and Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Ala., led a bipartisan letter of 174 members of Congress requesting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) not finalize a policy change that could have devastating effects to the delivery of home health services.
Under the proposed rule, the current home health reimbursement model for Medicare reimbursements would be replaced by a new policy called the 2019 Home Health Groupings Model (HHGM). That policy change will result in a $950 million cut to home health providers in 2019 alone.
The drastic shift in these Medicare reimbursements due to the HHGM would follow nearly a decade of policy changes that have slashed reimbursements to home health providers. Between 2009 and 2018, home health providers will have seen a nearly 42 percent cumulative rate reduction for Medicare home health services.
Millions of seniors, people with disabilities and people with limited mobility rely on home health services. Continued slashes to home health provider reimbursement rates, including the implementation of the new HHGM, will result in fewer home health providers, which will limit choices in health care and force more people away from homes and into hospitals.
“Home health is a critical health care option for people throughout the United States, particularly those living in rural areas like I represent," Dr. Abraham said. "The proposed CMS policy change could have severe consequences in delivering home health services, which will result in more hospitalizations and more families being separated when sick loved ones need support the most. I thank Congresswoman Sewell and the other members who signed our letter for joining together to ask for a delay to this rule change so that we can ensure patients continue to have access to home health services.”
The members of Congress state in their letter that they agree with HHS’ goal of aligning home health reimbursements with patients’ clinical needs. However, they ask that HHS prevent the rule from becoming permanent an instead work with stakeholders, including home health agencies, providers and patient groups, to develop and implement reforms.
“Home health providers are a lifeline for constituents in my district, including seniors, disabled individuals, and those with limited mobility. These services are critical in saving long-term hospital costs, keeping families together, and promoting dignity and independence for our seniors,” said Rep. Sewell. “Today’s letter vocalized the concerns of a bipartisan group of Members of Congress who believe that CMS’ proposed policy has the potential to seriously harm the delivery of home health services at a time when we need to be strengthening our home health resources for an aging population. Given more time, I am confident that lawmakers, stakeholders, and CMS can work together to find a payment approach that protects patient access to care and caregiver resources.”
Other Louisiana members signing the letter include Majority Whip Steve Scalise and U.S. Reps. Garret Graves, Mike Johnson and Clay Higgins.
To view the letter, click here.