Home Healthcare Community Commends Administration Initiatives to Expand Seniors' Access to Home and Community-Based Care

Jul 09, 2012, 15:08 ET from Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare

- Initiatives strengthen access to the clinically advanced, cost effective skilled home healthcare services that vast majority of seniors prefer -

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) proposed rule for 2013 on Friday, July 6th.  Among its provisions, the proposed rule introduces a measure of stability for the funding of skilled home healthcare services. 

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare commended the proposed rule as the latest in a series of steps being taken to secure access to the clinically advanced, cost-effective care that surveys reveal is preferred by the vast majority of America's growing senior population.  

Today, nearly 3,500,000 American seniors receive skilled home healthcare services under the Medicare home health benefit.  These specialized services are provided by an estimated 500,000 professional caregivers, including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists.  The number of home health beneficiaries and caregivers is projected to increase significantly due to the growing senior citizen population, the documented preference of 89 percent of seniors to receive care at home, the significant budgetary savings associated with home healthcare, and job growth in the home health sector.

"Recent Administration actions will have a real and positive impact on the lives of millions of senior citizens and people with disabilities, many of whom face significant economic and access challenges," stated John Breaux, senior counsel to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.  "These important steps are evidence that decision-makers recognize the value skilled home healthcare brings to patients, their communities and the nation as a whole."

Recent initiatives expanding access to home- and community-based care include the following:

  • The Administration for Community Living (ACL), established in April by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), enables senior and disabled populations to be able to remain at home with community supports rather than relocate to costly institutions.
  • The Community First Choice Option, a program implemented by CMS, provides support to states that encourage the use of home and community-based care rather than care provided in inpatient facility settings.  
  • The Independence at Home Demonstration enables physicians to deliver primary care services at home to Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions and rewards practices that successfully provide quality care while reducing costs.
  • The Balancing Incentive Program provides enhanced Medicaid funding to states to encourage the use of low-cost home and community-based care and help states keep patients out of costly treatment facilities.
  • The State Demonstration to Integrate Care for Dual Eligible Individuals is designed to enable states to provide more coordinated and cost-effective care for dually-eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including skilled home healthcare services.

The Administration has also made home healthcare more accessible to America's Veterans by eliminating copayments for telehealth services utilized by patients participating in the breakthrough Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) program.  The program, which has been called a "model for healthcare delivery in America," is a powerful example of how clinically advanced home healthcare is achieving positive patient outcomes and reducing government spending.  In fact, the VA has documented a net 24 percent reduction in HBPC participants' total healthcare costs due to the cost-effectiveness of home-based healthcare services.

"Important steps are being taken to secure and expand seniors' access to high-quality, low-cost home healthcare," added Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "The Partnership looks forward to providing comments to CMS on its proposed rule and to working with the Agency as it continues its efforts to make skilled home healthcare services available to the millions of seniors and disabled Americans who want to age in place at home."

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare was established in 2010 to assist government officials in ensuring access to quality home healthcare services.  Representing more than 1,500 skilled home healthcare agencies nationwide, the Partnership is dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the quality, efficiency, and integrity of home health for seniors and disabled Americans.  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