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Will federal cuts to home health payments make it harder to age "in place"?

Heart-Home-Sweet-Home-Tapes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a rule last week reducing payments to home health agencies by $200 million, or 1.05 percent in 2014. With other decreases and adjustments required under the Affordable Care Act, the cuts will amount to 14 percent over the period from 2014 to 2017,

In a statement on its website, CMS said the rule will "better align Medicare payments with home health agencies’ costs providing care, while lowering costs to taxpayers and the 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who receive home health services nationwide."

But concerned congressional members David McKinley (R-WV) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) wrote in a letter to CMS that the rule will drive Medicare reimbursement for home health services  below cost in every state by 2017.  "As a result, we are concerned that the proposed rule would have a direct impact on access for millions of seniors, many of whom reside in rural and underserved communities," the representatives wrote.   

Industry advocates from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice complained that the cuts  come on the heels of $78 billion in payment reductions since 2009. 

CMS said it plans to monitor claims to ensure that home care access remains steady as the payment adjustment takes effect.   

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