NAHC Opposes Proposed Home Health Copays & Inflation Update Cuts In 2016 Budget

NAHC released a press release today stating that it strongly opposes President Obama’s proposed home health copayments and payment cuts. NAHC believes that a deficit reduction should not come in the form of a sick tax on the country’s poorest, sickest and most vulnerable individuals. Previously enacted changes are expected to cut Medicare spending on home health services by more than $100 billion in ten years. These cuts will result in Medicare paying home health agencies less than their costs, leading to 56 percent of Medicare home health agencies being “under water” by 2017. NAHC says Congress should reject any additional cuts and any home health copays whether the reason is postponement or elimination of scheduled cuts in physician fees or deficit reduction.

President Obama’s budget estimates that a home health copay would reduce Medicare spending by $830 million through 2025. However, NAHC says a home health copay will do the opposite and take Medicare spending in the wrong direction by forcing patients out of high-quality, cost-effective care into much more costly settings. The budget also includes a reduction each year in the Market Basket Index (inflation) updates for all post-acute providers from 2016 to 2025, including a 1.1 percentage reduction for home health care. These cuts would reduce home health reimbursements by over $15 billion. If these cuts do take effect, payment reductions would be an addition to the rebasing on home health, home health productivity adjustments and sequestration that lower payment rates by over 14 percent starting in 2015. According to NAHC, these home health cuts will push thousands of providers to the point of bankruptcy and limit patients’ access to home care.

Click here to read the press release.

ACA Open Enrollment Deadline A Month Away!

Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace ends on February 15, 2015. Directions for signing up, including details on fees, exemptions, enrollment periods, and information on what to do if you miss the ACA deadline can be found here.

House Looks To Raise Health Law’s Definition Of Full-Time Work To 40 Hours

The Affordable Care Act is once again at the top of the agenda for the new Republican Congressional majority. Yesterday, the House debated a bill that would redefine full-time work from 30 hours to 40 hours a week, reducing the number of workers who would be offered health insurance by their employers. Republicans have argued that by requiring companies to offer health insurance to employees working 30 or more hours, the health law creates an incentive for employers to reduce workers’ hours to below 30 per week. Therefore, creating a way for employers to avoid providing coverage or paying a fine. The bill is expected to pass the House and go to the Senate. However, the White House says that if the bill reaches President Obama’s desk, he will veto it.

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Report: States Get More, Spend More On Medicaid Under ACA

According to recent report released by the National Association of State Budget Officers, states are receiving and spending more money on the Medicaid health insurance program. The Affordable Care Act allowed more people to enroll in Medicaid and gave states 90 to 100 percent reimbursements for new enrollees. In fiscal year 2014, the increase in federal funds to states was almost entirely due to additional Medicaid dollars. Although Medicaid spending rose in most states, it was mostly funded by the federal government. Federal funding for Medicaid increased 17.8 percent, but state dollars directed towards it grew only 2.7 percent, according to the report.

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Senate Confirms Tavenner

Marilyn Tavenner was confirmed by a vote of 91-7 to become the permanent administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Tavenner, who was nominated to fill the position by President Obama in February, has served as acting administrator since Dr. Donald Berwick stepped down in late 2011.

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1.5B Sought For Health Insurance Exchanges

President Obama’s budget for FY 2014 seeks $1.5 billion to run health insurance exchanges in the 26 states that have refused so far to set up their own exchange, as well as the seven states that are partnering with the federal government. Insurance exchanges, a provision of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), are set to begin enrollment this fall.

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Budget Proposes Home Health Copayments

Earlier this week, President Obama released his budget proposal for FY2014 which included a co-payment for home health services of $100 per home health episode.

The copay would apply to episodes with 5 or more visits not preceded by a hospital or post-acute care stay for new beneficiaries starting in 2017 and, if enacted, would reduce Medicare payments for home health services by $60 million over 5 years and $730 million over 10 years.

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