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Legislation to Enhance the Medicare Home Health Benefit Introduced in Congress

Legislation to Enhance the Medicare Home Health Benefit Introduced in Congress

Home health care has long been a safe and effective alternative to care in an institutional setting. Medicare reform to provide viable, extended care services at home for patients who otherwise have only one choice — the skilled nursing facility (SNF) benefit — is long overdue.

The risks and limitations of SNFs have been vividly demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the pandemic crisis, extended care at home also makes sense. Nearly 33% of patients who go to SNFs have identical frailty scores to those who receive care at home. The main difference in these patients is that they lack access to extended caregiver services and certain other supplemental health care supports.

To address this issue, the Choose Home Care Act of 2021 (S.2562) was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. The legislation seeks to increase access to care at home by providing eligible Medicare beneficiaries with an additional care option following hospitalization. This is an important Medicare policy change that will strengthen and modernize the program by offering beneficiaries a safe, high-quality post-acute option for nursing home level services provided in the home.

By offering services such as skilled nursing, therapy, primary care, personal care, continuous remote patient monitoring, meals, home adaptations, and non-emergency transportation in the home setting instead of a SNF or other institutional setting, the Choose Home model would promote significant cost savings to the Medicare program. An analysis by a respected health economics firm shows the Choose Home model would generate as much as $247 million in Medicare savings annually in avoided SNF stays.

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Choose Home Care Act, which was championed by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). Original co-sponsors on the bill include Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and James Lankford (R-OH). In addition to NAHC, the legislation is endorsed by the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, AARP, and the National Council on Aging, among others.

“The Choose Home Care Act represents a tremendous step forward for Medicare beneficiaries who would prefer to recover at home, but have been previously prevented from doing so under current policy restrictions,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi. “Given the many benefits of accessing health care and support services at home, as well as the importance of protecting vulnerable patients from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, this must-pass legislation would go a long way to improve seniors’ health in a safe, cost-effective way.”

Take Action Now 📢

The action of concerned Floridians making their voice heard on Capitol Hill is powerful, and it is both easy and quick. Please contact your representatives in Congress and ask them to support the enhancement of the Medicare home health benefit by cosponsoring S.2562!

Click here to send a message to Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott using the HCAF Legislative Action Center.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice contributed to this report.

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