U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres Leads NY Congressional Delegation in Bipartisan Letter Advocating Preservation of Access to Home Health Care

Oct 24, 2023
Health
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) this week led the New York Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to President Biden, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks LaSure expressing concern about a proposed rule that will devastate access to home health care services.

“Home health care services are critical for seniors and those living with disabilities,” said U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “Without broad and affordable access to home health care, we are only exacerbating the disparities among our most vulnerable communities. It is important that we adequately fund home health services to provide care to those who need it most. I want to thank my colleagues across the state for joining me in supporting an issue that has a profound impact on the quality of health care New Yorkers receive. “

“In proposing billions of dollars in harmful Medicare cuts, CMS is ignoring the basics,” said Dan Savitt, CEO of the nonprofit VNS Health, New York’s largest home health provider. “While more patients are being referred to home health care, fewer are actually getting this care because of workforce shortages. This puts patients at risk and further strains hospital capacity. The situation is even worse in ‘home health deserts,’ where patients are starved of these services, and disparities in care continue to rise. VNS Health commends Congressman Torres for leading New York’s Congressional Delegation in a bipartisan call to pause and reconsider these cuts. We also salute Leaders Schumer and Jeffries for their ongoing commitment to ensuring that seniors across the country have access to sustainable, quality home health care.”

“The Home Care Association of NYS is extremely grateful to Congressman Torres for his continued leadership on this issue and the commitment of the NY Congressional Delegation to preventing the devastating cuts to home health care delivery proposed by CMS,” said Al Cardillo, President & CEO, Home Care Association of NYS. “These cuts would significantly reduce service delivery across the state and country and leave thousands of New Yorkers at grave risk of losing vital medical, post-hospital, and preventive care, further disrupting the health care system across the board.”

In June, CMS unveiled the CY2024 proposed home health rule, which introduces a permanent 9.36% payment reduction, including a 3.925% cut from 2023 and a 5.653% cut beginning in 2024. These reductions amount to a 2.2% overall decrease, totaling more than $1 billion in cuts to Medicare home health services in 2024. 

In addition to immediate cuts in the name of budget neutrality, CMS is also planning an alarming “claw back” of at least $4 billion in Medicare reimbursements that were provided during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) from 2020-2023.

For New York State, the 9.36% cut alone would result in a $42 million loss in 2024, leaving nearly 52% of home health agencies with negative margins and would impact nearly 170,000 NYS Medicare fee for service recipients each year, according to the Partnership for Quality Home Health.

Home health care is the safest, most preferred choice for seniors and Americans with disabilities. These proposed changes threaten home health care providers’ ability to continue care for the nation’s seniors and people with disabilities, will exacerbate an existing labor shortage within the health care industry, and will disproportionately impact vulnerable and minority communities.

According to Health Affairs Journal, Black, Hispanic, and low-income residents already have lower access to home health services, and the care they do have access to is of lower quality. Further, Black and Hispanic elderly individuals reside in nursing homes at higher rates than their white counterparts because of inequitable access to services such as home health.

Members of the New York Congressional Delegation who signed on to Rep. Torres’s letter include U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Reps. Yvette D. Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Joseph D. Morelle, Jerrold Nadler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Patrick Ryan, Elise M. Stefanik, Paul Tonko, Nydia M. Velázquez, Brian Higgins, Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., Andrew R. Garbarino, Nicole Malliotakis, Anthony D’Esposito, Dan Goldman, Nicholas A. Langworthy, Michael V. Lawler, Marcus J. Molinaro, and Brandon Williams.

You can view the letter here.

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