Home health leaders concerned over proposed Medicare funding cuts that could threaten future healthcare job creation
The July 2013 jobs report, released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), continues to demonstrate that the home healthcare sector is a steady source of job growth and employment in the healthcare field.
According to the BLS report, 3,900 new jobs were created in the home healthcare sector in July. During this same period, BLS reports that hospitals lost 4,400 jobs and the nursing and residential care facilities created just 300 new jobs. The significant number of new home health jobs represents nearly two-thirds of all new jobs created in the ambulatory health care services sector in July. Just as important, the new home healthcare jobs enabled the overall healthcare sector to post positive job growth of 2,500 – if no new home health jobs had been created, the overall healthcare sector would have experienced a net loss of nearly 2,000 jobs.
The home healthcare community has been a primary driver of job growth, as our nation's elderly population continues to grow and in light of seniors' overwhelming preference to receive the complex and chronic care they need in their own home. According to an analysis conducted by Avalere Health, home healthcare jobs are expected to grow 5.5 times faster than all other non-farm industries for the remainder of the decade – unless funding reductions destabilizing the home healthcare sector take effect.
Lawmakers, patient advocates, and the home healthcare community are expressing grave concern about the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) proposed rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 27. The draft rule calls for the rebasing of home healthcare by a staggering 14% (3.5% per year) over the next four years. If rebasing is implemented at this rate, 47 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are projected to have negative Medicare margins by 2017.
CMS has the authority and flexibility to lessen the proposed reduction and certainly should in light of the recent analysis depicting the steep decline in Medicare margins. The analysis of these margins demonstrates that access to quality home healthcare will be directly impacted.
"The home health community is urging CMS to conduct detailed multi-year analyses about the proposed rule's impact on patients, rural communities, small businesses and our nation's economic recovery and employment gains," stated Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. "Not only will further cuts impact the 3.5 million homebound seniors and disabled Americans who depend on the Medicare home health benefit, they will endanger jobs throughout the US."
Home healthcare is clinically advanced, cost-effective and patient preferred. Surveys demonstrate that nearly 90% of seniors prefer to age in place. Many therapies, once only available in institutional settings, are now safely and effectively administered in patients' homes at a significantly lower cost to taxpayers.
Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare