Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced bipartisan legislation that will help ensure that home health care remains an option for seniors in rural communities. The Preserve Access to Medicare Rural Home Health Services Act would ensure that home health agencies serving patients in rural areas continue to receive additional payments to help compensate for the higher costs that they face.
“Home health has become an increasingly important part of our health care system,” said Senator Collins. “The kinds of highly skilled—and often technically complex—services that our home health caregivers provide have enabled millions of our most vulnerable older and disabled citizens to avoid hospitals and nursing homes and remain in the comfort, privacy, and security of their own homes.”
“Your zip code should not determine your access to the highest-quality, most appropriate health care,” said Senator Cantwell. “This bipartisan legislation makes sure patients who use Medicare in Washington’s rural communities receive more convenient, cost-effective care in their own homes.”
Rural home health agencies generally experience costs as much as 12 to 15 percent higher than those located in urban and suburban communities. Senators Collins and Cantwell’s legislation would extend for five years the three percent add-on payment for home health agencies serving patients in rural areas. If nothing is done, the current rural add-on will expire in January 2018.