Big news on the horizon for seniors and the aging services industry. A bill introduced last month in the United States Senate would allow for in-home care alternatives to skilled nursing facilities for rehab and post-acute services. The Choose Home Care Act, which was sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), has bi-partisan support.
It would be a big win for seniors, allowing eligible Medicare patients to receive extended post-acute care services at home, rather than in a nursing home, “without placing undue burden on families to care for them.” According to Tumlinson, “The benefits are long overdue.”
Qualified home care agencies would also benefit, according to Tumlinson, with an additional avenue for billable services. “This legislation would essentially allow home health agencies to compete with skilled nursing facilities,” she said.
According to Tumlinson, the flexibility to consumers means more overlap in the post-acute services that skilled nursing facilities and home health care agencies could offer. Skilled nursing facilities may view the Choose Home Care Act as a threat. In fact, the American Health Care Association has expressed concerns that “it would supplant existing benefits and increase out-of-pocket costs.” If the bill passes, it may provide opportunities for private pay senior living providers, Tumlinson explained. “They can entertain partnerships with qualified home health agencies. For instance, they might team up with a Medicare-certified home health provider that will receive the expanded Medicare payments to care for residents that are recently discharged from the hospital, while the senior living provider would be able to collect the private-pay rent.”
In addition to bi-partisan political support, the legislation has broad support, including AARP, home care advocacy groups, and senior housing organizations such as LeadingAge. The bill was introduced in the Senate in late summer, and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.