Home health leaders warn 14% proposed cut to Medicare home health funding would significantly undermine sector's ability to maintain job growth trends
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) August jobs report released Friday, the home healthcare sector was responsible for nearly one-third of new healthcare jobs created last month. The new employment gains in home health are the latest in a trend of continued job growth by the sector reported by the BLS. Since 2012, home health has contributed more than 93,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy.
According to the BLS report, 9,500 new home health jobs were created last month. This represents nearly one-third of new healthcare jobs (32,700) reported for August. In comparison to other healthcare sectors, home health job opportunities are growing faster than other fields including hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, which reported gains for 900 jobs and 3,400 jobs respectively.
The home healthcare community has been a leading job creator in the nation's healthcare delivery system – a trend that is projected to continue due to the aging of the Baby Boom generation and seniors' documented preference to receive medical treatment in the comfort and dignity of their home rather than in more-costly institutional settings. As the Medicare patient population swells, patient demand for home healthcare is expected to grow considerably, which will require a larger home health workforce.
However, proposed Medicare cuts to home health threaten the stability of America's home health provider community and the vulnerable patient population they serve. In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) proposed rule, which calls for rebasing of home healthcare by a massive 14 percent (3.5% per year) over the next four years. If the proposed rule is finalized in its current form, the national average home health Medicare margin is projected to dip to -9.77 percent and 47 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are projected to have negative Medicare margins by 2017.
"The August jobs report underscores the value home health brings to the American healthcare system. Our community remains highly concerned that proposed cuts to Medicare home health will stifle job growth, while also limiting patient access to the home-based health services our nation's seniors demand," stated Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "To ensure much-needed healthcare jobs and patient care are not at risk, we encourage CMS to conduct a more thorough multi-year analyses of the proposed rule and its impact on a healthcare sector that is poised to support job and economic growth."
An analysis conducted by Avalere Health projects home health jobs will grow 5.5 times faster than all other non-farm industries for the remainder of the decade — unless funding reductions destabilizing the home healthcare sector take effect.
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare was established in 2010 to assist government officials in ensuring access to skilled home healthcare services for seniors and disabled Americans. Representing community- and hospital-based home healthcare agencies across the United States, the Partnership is dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the quality, efficiency and integrity of home healthcare. To learn more, visit www.homehealth4america.org. To join the home healthcare policy conversation, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog.
SOURCE Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare