Doctors’ Prognosis: New Face to Face Rule Hinders Home Care

A new Medicare rule is only a few months old, but it is already having a detrimental effect on home care in the Carolinas, Virginia, and even nationwide.

New Medicare Rule

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice conducted a survey of physicians recently to see what kind of impact the new face to face requirement has had since it was instituted April 1. The results of that survey illustrated just how much the new rules have impacted home health care:

• 62% of physicians say patients are less likely to be referred to home health care due to the new documentation requirements
• 73% of the physicians say the documentation requirements will result in a negative impact on the health of Medicare
• 93% consider the face-to-face documentation requirements more difficult than previous certification requirements and thus, want them simplified

Those findings illustrate why the new rule, while developed with good intentions, is not in the best interest of people who are affected the most. The extensive documentation requirements are a barrier to many patients, who may be intimidated by the need to provide such thorough information. Physicians also suffer from the new rule, as they must also provide unprecedented details about why a particular patient is eligible under Medicare coverage.

Less Patient Referrals

The most troublesome news is that the vast majority of physicians believe that the new rule will result in fewer patients referred to home care, which will negatively impact the health of thousands. Home care is a vital part of health care in this country. In fact, this article states that America needs to take advantage of all the benefits that home health care provides. This new rule was designed to increase a physician’s involvement in patient care. However, with patient numbers declining, it has had the opposite effect.

Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services

Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services is hopeful that new, less stringent requirements are created soon. In the meantime, we will remain dedicated to educating patients and physicians about the new rule and helping patients receive the care they need and deserve.

Tony Zizzamia
President, Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services

Home Care: A Health Care Idea We Can All Support

Finding a common cause in America can prove as challenging as balancing the federal budget. Citizens throughout North Carolina have differing views on politics, and particularly about health care. However, there is one health care ideal that crosses property lines and party lines, which is the importance of home care.

November is National Home Care Month

November is National Home Care Month. No matter what Americans think of the recent health care reform law, they believe in the importance of home care. A recent study by Genworth Financial showed that 80 percent of respondents preferred receiving treatment in the home instead of outside surroundings. Another in-depth study by Avalere Health concluded that patients receiving Medicare home health services soon after a hospital discharge saved Medicare almost $2 billion over those who did not receive such care. Those receiving home care get better faster at a significantly diminished cost compared to those who are treated in hospital rooms.

Need for Home Care

The need for home care continues to increase. The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this year that one in four households in the U.S. cares for someone 50 or older. Furthermore, more than 7.6 million Americans receive home care. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that from 2000 to 2007, the industry saw an increase of almost 300,000 workers, a surge of almost 150 percent.

In addition to a new focus on chronically ill elderly patients with multiple diagnoses, new advances, such as telemonitoring and other medical treatments now available in the home could also increase that demand. Of course, those advances and the needs of home care patients, face challenges because of proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Those two programs fund a combined 57 percent of home health costs, Medicare alone has already cut home health reimbursement by more than 8% since 2008 and will cut another 5% in 2011. The proposed cuts could limit the availability of those advances and give home care patients fewer choices.

NC Residents Care

North Carolina residents won’t let those changes happen without a fight. Almost 1,000 letters have been sent to Congress members from the state, urging lawmakers to pass the Home Health Care Access Protection Act. The Home Health Care Access Protection Act would stop those cuts from happening and maintain the full range of services that home care provides.

Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services believes in the future of home care, and we aren’t alone. Millions of people choose to receive care in the home. We have seen patients make remarkable recoveries in homes we visit, and there are thousands of other success stories throughout North Carolina.

That’s why supporting the Home Health Care Access Protection Act is the first step in helping keep home health care an affordable option in the health care continuum. We want the best for patients and caregivers, and that legislation is a good way to start.

Anthony Zizzamia is the president of Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services, which has 25 offices throughout North Carolina and serves more than 19,000 patients annually.