Oct 12, 2022 - Health

Home health patients, advocates sue Becerra

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Three disabled Medicare beneficiaries and two organizations are suing Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, alleging he restricted the availability of home health services for individuals who need aides for short periods of time.

Why it matters: The lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia comes as home health agencies face looming Medicare payment cuts that the providers say will reduce the number of visits for some patients, or result in the loss of care entirely.

Driving the news: The lawsuit alleges that the CMS payment model changes have impeded services for people in need of "part-time or intermittent" services usually totaling 28 or fewer hours a week.

  • The plaintiffs detail difficulty finding consistent and enough home health aides between hospital stays or when needed, and some had to use their own finances to cover necessary care.
  • The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Team Gleason, a Louisiana charity for ALS patients, are among the plaintiffs seeking an injunction to ensure that those who qualify "have reasonable access to the home health aide services."

What we're watching: Home health agencies might get a reprieve from the worst of the payment cuts, but the lawsuit alleges a broader access issue that is made more difficult with staffing shortages following the pandemic.

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