In the home health final rule released on Wednesday, CMS discontinued its plans to move forward with the home health groupings model, which would have resulted in a home health spending cut of $950 million, or 4.3%, in 2019, when it would have taken effect. The final rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on November 7.
SDAHO, LeadingAge and AHA, in their comment letters on the proposed rule to CMS, strongly opposed the implementation of the Home Health Groupings Model payment system for home health. More than 1,300 comments were left by stakeholders on the Federal Register during the public comment period, mostly urging CMS to drop the rule.
CMS will now take additional time to engage with stakeholders and move towards a system that shifts the focus from volume of services to a more patient-centered model.
Unfortunately in the final rule, CMS also finalized a planned .04% decrease, or $80 million cut, for home health providers in 2018. There has been a consistent annual decrease in home health rates since 2014. These cuts have resulted in more than 700 home health providers dropping from accepting Medicare over the last three years. Further analysis on the final rule will be forthcoming.