In the waning hours of the federal legislative session, the Senate passed an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff that was then approved by the House with none of the feared elements concerning home health care.
The bill extends tax rates for the vast majority of citizens along with a series of other tax-related extenders and unemployment benefits. It also includes a “doc fix” through New Year’s Eve 2013.
The agreement was approved with bipartisan support and, according to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), there are no cuts to Medicare home health services or hospice care benefits, payments, or payment rates. No home health copays are in this bill and there are no Medicaid cuts affecting home care. Additionally, NAHC found that protection against the Medicare outpatient therapy cap is continued through December 31, 2013.
The “doc fix” is paid for primarily through cuts to hospitals with nearly $15 billion in a combination of coding adjustments and DSH payment reductions. ESRD payments are also affected by a reduction of $4.9 billion.
The CLASS program established to help finance long term care services through a voluntary insurance approach under the Affordable Care Act is repealed under the Senate bill. The repeal has no financial consequence as CMS earlier indicated that it would not implement the CLASS program due to its inability to assure financial viability.
NAHC also notes that a very important provision in the Senate bill is the establishment of a Long Term Care Commission that will be charged with the responsibility to develop a plan for meeting the needs of the growing population of Americans needing care in the home and in other settings. The Commission will have 15 members appointed by the President and Congressional leaders with representation of consumers, older adults, family caregivers, and care providers.
For more on the fiscal cliff and the health care-related implications, see stories below:
- Washington Post: The fiscal cliff cuts $1.9 billion from ‘Obamacare,’ here’s how
- Kaiser Health News: ‘Doc Fix’ in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Plan Cuts Medicare Hospital Payments
- CNN: House Staves off Fiscal Cliff, but More Money Squabbles Lie Ahead
- NY Times: Divided House Passes Tax Deal in End to Latest Fiscal Standoff
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.