CMS Proposes 2010 Medicare Home Health Rates

On Thursday, July 30, CMS posted proposed changes to the Medicare home health payment rates for calendar year 2010. Under the propose changes, the national standard episode rate for home health services will see a net increase of 2%, from the current $2,271.92 to $2,317.47.

The new rules also update the wage index for each metropolitan and rural area. For Massachusetts, the indexes for Barnstable and Springfield are going down slightly. All other regions will see a small increase.

The Alliance has prepared a spreadsheet of 2010 rates based on the CMS proposal.

**Note that these rates are subject to change if Congress passes a healthcare reform bill this year.**

Kelleher Testimony on Equal Choice Law

Pat Kelleher’s testimony regarding the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs Oversight Hearing on the Equal Choice Law is available for download.

The Equal Choice Law was passed with the intention of saving patients, families and MassHealth millions of dollars by limiting the amount of admissions into inpatient facilities.  With that theory in mind, it would seem that Equal Choice and home health go hand in hand. A 2007 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Blue Shield of California proved that a patient-centered management program (PCM) where home care was increased by 22 percent and hospice by 62 percent actually reduced hospital admissions by 38 percent, reduced hospital days by 36 percent, and reduced costs by more than $18,000 per patient. The article heralding this study is attached to my written testimony.

Despite the goals of Equal Choice and the proven track record of home health, the industry has seen little that would indicate an intention – or even recognition – of the need to expand capacity in the community care area. In fact, if anything, we have seen the reverse.

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