Right at Home Applauds Congress for Proposing New Home Care Benefits for Medicare
Bill adds up to 144 hours of in-home help with meals, bathing and dressing.
Creates new benefit in Original Medicare accessible to all beneficiaries
Right at Home applauds Congress for the coming introduction of the Expanding Care in the Home Act. The bill will enable more services to take place safely in the home, including well-timed assistance with the activities of daily living for the frailest Medicare beneficiaries and those recently discharged from the hospital.
Right at Home congratulates U.S. Representatives Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) for their leadership and work in ensuring patients have the choice to receive needed services in their homes. “As we identify opportunities to modernize the care Nebraska’s seniors can access, we must consider the convenience and comfort home care offers them,” said Rep. Smith. “The Expanding Care in the Home Act is a commonsense measure to ensure Medicare can process claims for in-home care services, and I’m proud to lead the introduction of this important bill.”
“Seniors want to spend as much of their later years at home but need additional support to pay for that,” said Jeremy Starkel, owner of Right at Home in Grand Island, Nebraska. “This new Medicare benefit will help seniors get the care they want in the comfort of their homes. We are grateful to Congressman Smith for his leadership on this important issue.”
“Right at Home is excited to support the introduction of the Expanding Care in the Home Act,” said Margaret Haynes, President and CEO of Right at Home, a member of Moving Health Home, which is backing the introduction of the bill. “Every day, our 385 provider locations across America receive inquiries from seniors and their families asking if Original Medicare pays for assistance with the activities of daily living. We call for the enactment of this bill, which enables all Medicare beneficiaries to get home care at the times they need it most.”
In-home support for Medicare beneficiaries is not new. Since 2018, Medicare Advantage plans have been allowed to pay for caregivers who help with cooking, getting dressed and moving around the home. As of 2023, 18% of Medicare Advantage plans include this important benefit. Medicare Advantage plans have seen the value of help in the home, and Right at Home believes the time has come to make this benefit accessible to all Medicare beneficiaries.
According to ATI Advisory and the Long-Term Quality Alliance, Medicare spends twice as much on those seniors who have multiple illnesses and are unable to dress, feed, bathe or move around their homes without assistance. The home assistance benefit in the bill directs 12 hours of home care services per week for 30 days to these frail seniors. If a doctor approves it, they could receive up to 60 more hours for the year.
“Having a home care aide in the home to help a senior with bathing, getting dressed, meal preparation and moving around their home reduces hospital readmissions, loneliness and the risk of falls,” said Haynes. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in June 2019 found that not including ongoing assistance cost Medicare over $4 billion.
The benefit would also provide home care services for beneficiaries recently discharged from the hospital, reducing additional Medicare spending. Right at Home providers in Columbia, South Carolina, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, saw declines in hospital readmissions among the discharged seniors they cared for. A report published in the Professional Case Management journal about the work in Winston-Salem found a 40% decrease in hospital readmissions in the 30 days after discharge due to assistance in the home. A hospital admission costs Medicare over $13,000.
“Right at Home looks forward to providing care for seniors who would look to use this new benefit,” said Haynes. Due to the limited nature of the assistance and to ensure there are sufficient providers, those home care agencies providing only this benefit would be exempt from Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs), removing an otherwise unnecessary barrier to access to care.