It’s shaping up to be a tense fall for home health providers. A final home health rule that seems to be the most threatening in years for the industry is on the near horizon. It could contain Medicare cuts to the tune of millions of dollars that will further hurt access to care.  

As if to set the scene of how critical the stakes are, next Tuesday the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on Health Care will hold a hearing on the “vital” role home healthcare plays for older Americans and those with chronic conditions.

No doubt the discussion will veer toward the devastation Medicare cuts already have inflicted on home health providers and the concerns surrounding more reductions stemming from a final home health rule. Among the four high-powered witnesses: William Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, which brought the lawsuit against HHS; and Carrie Edwards, director of home care services for Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings, NE, which was featured in the lawsuit because of a decline in revenues that has forced the agency to reject prospective patients. The other witnesses are the highly respected David Grabowski, PhD, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and Judith Stein, JD, executive director and attorney for Center for Medicare Advocacy, Willimantic, CT. If you are around at 10 a.m. ET, this is must-watch TV, people.

Medicare cuts already have wreaked havoc on the field, two highly respected industry leaders told McKnight’s Home Care in a podcast this week. They have led to a nearly 50% rejection rate for home health services, David Baiada, CEO of Bayada Home Health Care and Joanne Cunningham, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Health Care said. More cuts will have dire consequences, they said.

Home health providers have been preparing for a showdown. Lest we forget, when the final rule hits, it will come after the introduction of legislation in the House and Senate and a lawsuit filed against the Department of Health and Human Services to block Medicare home health cuts.  

Brace yourselves.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at l[email protected].