Final House Letter to CMS Opposing Case Mix Cuts and Value-Based Purchasing Penalties Signed by 133 Representatives
September 22, 2015 07:06 AM
Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR-2), Tom Price (R-GA-6), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), and James McGovern (D-MA-2), along with 129 other bipartisan members of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent the final version of the letter on Friday, September 18, to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging CMS to withdraw their proposed case mix cuts and unsustainable value-based purchasing penalties. In a demonstration of strong Congressional support, the House letter was signed by 133 Representatives from a total of 38 different states.
Val J. Halamandaris, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), praised the Representatives for their strong effort to prevent the payment cuts and penalties. “NAHC would like to express its gratitude to Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR-2), Tom Price (R-GA-6), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), James McGovern (D-MA-2), and the bipartisan complement of 129 U.S. Representatives who signed this letter in support of home health services for Medicare beneficiaries,” said NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris. “The letter sends a strong message that CMS should withdraw their proposed case mix cuts and unsustainable value-based purchasing penalties. These additional payment modifications would be devastating for home health agencies, particularly small and rural providers, and would endanger Medicare patients’ ability to receive the care they need in their homes. This overwhelming support from Congress helps NAHC and its members deliver the message to CMS that they should withdraw or modify their proposals accordingly.”
NAHC, in addition to sending its own comments to CMS opposing these proposals, enlisted Congressional support in order to convince CMS to back off the rate cuts and revise the Value-Based Purchasing proposal (see previous NAHC Report article here). CMS issued the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) proposed rule for 2016 in June. Two concerning elements of the rule are the 1.72 percent "case mix" cut in 2016 and again in 2017, and the application of a 5-8% range in penalties and incentive payments for the proposed Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) pilot program. The draft HHPPS rule's proposed case-mix cut and the impact of the HHVBP pilot could exacerbate the weakened fiscal environment in which home health providers are already working, impacting the care upon which some of the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries depend.
The House letter urges CMS to “reconsider its proposed case mix cut until it evaluates the specific causes of case mix weight changes from 2012 to 2014 and consider a more reasonable implementation schedule for the proposed withhold amount in the HHVBP program.”
CMS must consider the NAHC comments along with any other comments submitted in developing the final rule. That final rule is expected to be released in late October or early November as it must be issued at least 60 days prior to its January 1, 2016, effective date.
NAHC is working with members of the U.S. Senate to send a Senate letter to CMS in the coming days.
To see the full letter from the Representatives, including the full list of signatures, please click here.