US Senators Want to Extend the Exemption for Acute Hospital Care at Home Through CMS with a Bill - Latest Global News

US Senators Want to Extend the Exemption for Acute Hospital Care at Home Through CMS with a Bill

Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have introduced a bill that would delay the expiration date of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver program by five days would years.

“Since Hospital at Home launched just a few years ago, we have seen this program deliver positive patient outcomes and reduce costs nationwide,” Carper said in a news release.

Currently, the home health exemption program is scheduled to end on December 31st.

In 2020, CMS launched the Acute Hospital Care At Home program. The CMS waiver program was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and allowed providers to receive reimbursement for providing hospital-level home care at a time when hospitals were struggling with capacity issues.

By creating a reimbursement mechanism, the waiver effectively addressed one of the major challenges in implementing home hospital programs nationwide.

As of May, 330 hospitals in 136 systems in 37 states had been approved to participate in the waiver program.

“The Acute Hospital Care at Home program has revolutionized health care for so many Americans by improving care while reducing the health risks associated with hospitalizations,” Scott said in a news release. “I am proud of our efforts to expand this program, relieve pressure on our health care system and enable thousands of vulnerable Americans to continue to receive high-quality care in the safety of their homes.”

This isn’t the first time a waiver program extension has been on the table.

In 2022, the “Hospital Modernization Act” was introduced. The legislation was again sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.). Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) also supported this bill, which extended the exemption for two more years.

Additionally, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Carper (D – Del.) also introduced the At Home Observation and Medical Evaluation (HOME) Services Act last month. The bill would expand the scope of practice of home hospital providers by allowing them to care for patients on “observation status.”

“Addressing our healthcare challenges requires innovative solutions,” Rubio said in a press release. “The HOME Services Act builds on the success of the Hospital at Home program to reduce costs and burdens and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.”

Aside from legislative action by politicians, providers and other industry stakeholders have also been vocal in their support for expanding the exemption.

In March, a large group of home health stakeholders wrote a letter to the Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader – Senators Chuck Schumer (D–NY) and Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.).

The letter called for a minimum five-year extension of the exemption program before it expires at the end of 2024.

“The waiver must be expanded to allow hospitals and health systems across the country to further expand Hospital-at-Home (HaH) logistics, supply chain and workforce, and to include multiple payers outside of the Medicare program, including Medicaid programs “To encourage joining the HaH market,” the cohort wrote in the letter. “An expansion will also make it possible to develop home services on an equal basis for all population groups and ensure that inpatient hospital care is available to the patients who need it, while at the same time giving patients who can and want to be treated at home the opportunity to do so This will create the necessary capacity for hospitals without increasing costs for the healthcare system.”

The letter includes signatures from companies including ChristianaCare, CommonSpirit Health, Right at Home and Best Buy Health. The advocacy group Moving Health Home was among those who signed the letter.

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