Home healthcare worker performs clinical test on patient

Home healthcare providers are urging the Senate to quickly pass legislation that would extend the suspension of mandatory cuts to Medicare until the end of this year.

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1868, which extends the temporary suspension of mandatory 2% cuts to Medicare — known as sequestration — until Dec. 31. The bill also waives pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirements under the recently signed American Rescue Plan Act, which stipulates any new legislation cannot increase the budget deficit or reduce the surplus. Similar legislation is now before the Senate Finance Committee.

“With the value of home health becoming increasingly evident during the COVID-19 public health emergency, it is critical to ensure both patient access and provider stability by preventing across-the-board cuts from going into effect,” Joanne Cunningham, executive director of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH), said in a statement.

William Dombi, president of the National Association of Home Care and Hospice, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily he is hopeful the Senate will follow the House of Representatives’ lead. “Passage of a continuation of a moratorium on sequestration is essential during these challenging times,” Dombi said.

Mandatory cuts to Medicare are set to take effect March 31. The healthcare industry wanted the moratorium to be extended under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, but the legislation failed to include it.

PQHH said the cuts will be a financial blow to providers already struggling with Patient Driven Grouping Model (PDGM) payment reductions, which cut home health payment rates 4.36% last year and again this year.