As Medicare home health and hospice growth continues in the United States, so too does scrutiny related to increased government spending for services under the Medicare program.
While home-based care saves the United States healthcare system billions of dollars compared to nursing home and hospital care, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an advisory body that makes recommendations to Congress on Medicare provider payment rates, continues to target home health and hospice for reimbursement rate cuts each year.
Home-based care providers serve patients under very slim profit margins. Any Medicare reimbursement cut is a significant threat to these providers, the industry and the patients being served.
Recent MedPAC Recommendations
MedPAC released the March 2021 Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy, a report detailing their recommendation to increase hospital reimbursement by 2% and decrease rates for home health and hospice providers by 5%, a consistent recommendation from the commission.
This independent, non-political appointed body has been making recommendations to Congress for more than 20 years to preserve the Medicare trust fund so that its resources will be available for future generations. With more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, preservation and efficiency of funds is vital.
However, the more recent recommendations have continued to support increased Medicare reimbursement rates for long-term care hospitals and inpatient facilities, while simultaneously recommending reimbursement cuts to home-based care, a move that will not go unopposed.
Achieving the Triple Aim
My message is that we, as a nation, have proof that home-based care has achieved the three goals of the Triple Aim established by the Affordable Care Act in 2008. These goals being higher quality, lower costs and improved patient outcomes.
In addition, home-based care has proven to be patient preferred in numerous surveys over recent years.
Home-based care is the solution to the nation’s healthcare and financial crises. An assessment made a few years back that predicted this future of modern healthcare in the home was only attainable with the right technology to perform telehealth visits.
COVID-19 then ushered in widespread use of telehealth technology, with experts acknowledging the undeniable value of this widespread pivot to digital.
Home-based care has met the standards set in place with the Triple Aim, is the public preference and is supported with advanced technology to safely perform visits. However, MedPAC has yet to recognize these facts in their annual recommendations to Congress on provider reimbursement.
Garnering Support for Home-Based Care
Our national associations are continually advocating against reductions for home-based care and fighting for increased reimbursement and fair regulations.
With COVID-19 noticeably illuminating the benefits of home healthcare, I hope that 2021 will provide the data necessary to finally change MedPAC’s perception on the home-based care sector.
Once the commission supports the mission of healthcare in the home, the industry will have fair operating margins to grow and achieve greater cost savings in the long term for our aging nation.
Join Axxess in the advocacy for home-based care by supporting regulatory efforts from the Home Care Association of America, National Association for Home Care and Hospice and National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.