Medicare cuts could impact senior care
Published 8:55 am Friday, October 7, 2022
Kentucky home health leaders are expressing deep concern over proposed Medicare cuts to essential senior care services, which they estimate will have an $18 million impact to Medicare home health in Kentucky next year. They are asking Congress to halt the action.
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare says a proposed rule to update the home health payment system in 2023, issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, will include a permanent 7.69% cut to Medicare home health services, plus billions of dollars in additional cuts. They fear the delivery of high-quality home healthcare to millions of American seniors could be jeopardized, including 49,502 Medicare beneficiaries across Kentucky.
According to the Partnership, a recent analysis of the proposed Medicare cuts found that in Kentucky, the total estimated impact of the 7.69% cut will be nearly $18 million in 2023. The impact of the proposed $3 billion nationwide “clawback” for home healthcare provided in 2020 and 2021 would be more than $27 million with another anticipated cut of more than $16 million in 2022. The analysis also found that nearly half of Kentucky’s home health agencies will be operating at margins below zero after the 2023 cut.
Nationwide, they say the proposed 7.69% cut alone equates to a $1.33 billion cut from Medicare home health in 2023. With Medicare forecasting additional cuts of more than $2 billion in 2024 and the years beyond, the total impact of the cuts is expected to total $18.15 billion nationally over the next ten years.
Access to Medicare home health care services is vital to the health, safety, and rehabilitation of older Kentuckians. If these cuts are implemented there is a chance that half of America’s home health agencies will be at risk of closure, meaning nearly half of the 91 home health agencies in Kentucky could be at risk.
“The delivery of quality home health services to older persons and families across Kentucky is already challenging enough considering the impacts of the pandemic and the realities of high inflation, rising labor costs, increasing fuel prices, and other serious economic challenges,” said Evan C. Reinhardt, executive director of the Kentucky Home Care Association. “Despite increased demand for services and dwindling resources, Medicare has proposed further restricting our ability to meet the care needs of Kentucky seniors through unfair and harmful cuts. I urge all our lawmakers in Kentucky’s congressional delegation – with the November mid-term election around the corner – to act immediately to prevent the implementation of these cuts.”
Bipartisan lawmakers in Congress have introduced The Preserving Access to Home Health Act of 2022 (S.4605/H.R. 8581), which would protect access to home health by delaying home health cuts until 2026. Representative James Comer (R-KY-1) from Kentucky has already joined as a co-sponsor.