The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began cutting reimbursement rates for in-home health care as a way to help pay for the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. Those cuts, spread out over a series of years, equaled about 14 percent.
In recent years, CMS has debated and put forth proposals to cut reimbursement rates to in-home care even more. While it may be likely that more reimbursement cuts are coming in the future, the impact it’s having on some individuals, especially in smaller, more rural portions of the country, are taking effect now.
For example, in Chippewa County, a number of aging and disabled individuals will have to seek out other support services as the County has terminated its in-home care services due to financial challenges.
As noted by News 18 WQOW in its brief, Chippewa County votes to eliminate home health care program, written by Stephen Kelley:
“Seven people will lose their job and nearly 60 patients will need to find another health care provider. Chippewa County Administrator Scholz said the health department will be working alongside area hospitals and home care agencies to help patients transition to a new provider.
Scholz told News 18 that a decline in Medicare reimbursements kept the program from being sustainable. In fact, in 2019 the program exceeded its budget by $54,000.
Patients enrolled in the program will still be able to keep their services through March 13.”
While this may seem to be a minor issue in a smaller region of the country, it highlights a serious problem with continual reimbursement rate cuts at the Medicaid level for in-home health care services.
Increasing numbers of aging seniors will prefer to age in place, yet still deal with chronic health issues for which they need support. Those individuals without the financial means to be able to pay in-home care themselves will often depend on Medicaid for support.
Many home health care companies are seeking out ways to provide services in light of these cuts, but with minimum wage hikes, Department of Labor rule changes, and other factors, the financial pressure for smaller, independent agencies supporting clients directly dependent on CMS will only increase.
The demand for in-home care services is only going to grow for the next decade or more, which means too many seniors may scramble to find adequate support outside of immediate family when they need it most.
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