In contrast to current Medicare policy, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has issued a new recommendation that seniors be charged copayments for home health care visits. The recommendation is designed to reign in the cost of home health care, which currently runs $20 billion per year. To date, seniors have received this type of care free of charge.
The Medicare website stipulates that in order to qualify for home health care, beneficiaries must be referred to the program by their physicians, require skilled nursing care, be approved by the Medicare program and be homebound and unable to leave home without assistance.
While some members of the commission expressed concern over the recommendation’s impact on seniors of modest means, the vote was nevertheless 13 to 1 in favor of passing the recommendation along to lawmakers. Low-income seniors would be exempt from the requirement, as would recently discharged hospital patients.