NEW: RI Congressional Leaders Fight to Prevent Medicare Cuts
Friday, September 27, 2013
In total, over 140 bipartisan lawmakers signed the letter to CMS.
“We commend Senator Jack Reed, Congressman David Cicilline, and Congressman James Langevin for taking action to preserve the Medicare home health benefit for current and future beneficiaries,” said Nicholas Oliver, Executive Director for the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, the state’s trade association representing licensed home care, home nursing care, and hospice agencies. “We stand ready to work with our Congressional delegation to ensure that the elderly and disabled in every Rhode Island community will continue to receive medically-advanced, cost-effective health care services that will allow them to remain in the comfort of their homes and their community, rather than in costly nursing homes at the higher expense of taxpayers.”
Rhode Island’s Sen. Reed, Congressmen Cicilline and Langevin, and other bipartisan members noted in their respective letters to CMS, “we are concerned the proposed rule may fall short of this goal due to its reliance on incomplete data. Consequently we believe that the analysis results in the under-counting of home health agencies’ costs, an over-estimation of their operating margins and, as a result, an inappropriately high rebasing adjustment.”
Click here to read the bipartisan letter in its entirety.
Proposed Cuts to Medicare
In June, CMS proposed to reduce Medicare home health payments at a rate of 3.5 percent over the next four years. If implemented in its current form, these cuts will result in a 14 percent overall reduction to Medicare home health payments. Additionally, it will cause Rhode Island and 46 other states and the District of Columbia to soon experience negative Medicare margins.
As noted by lawmakers, the rebasing rate is not based on a detailed analysis and fails to account for certain variables, such as the impact of the rule over all four years it will be implemented (2014-2017). Additionally, the proposed rule does not factor in the negative consequences such large cuts will place on small businesses, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Such drastic cuts, coupled with the $72.5 billion in cuts the community has already sustained since 2009, will render many rural and small providers inoperable. Agencies will be forced to close their doors, as they cannot provide care with payment reimbursements below the actual cost of care.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Small Business Administration expressed similar concerns to CMS that the proposed rule underestimates the impact the rebasing cuts will have on the nation’s small home health agencies, including non-profit organizations.
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