Medicare is supposed to provide up to 35 hours a week of home care to those who qualify, but many Medicare patients with chronic conditions are being wrongly denied such care, according to Kaiser Health News. For a variety of reasons, many home health care agencies are simply telling patients they are not covered.
Medicare is mandated to cover home health benefits indefinitely. In addition, Medicare is required to cover skilled nursing and home care even if a patient has a chronic condition. Unfortunately, many home health providers are not aware of the law and tell home health care patients that they must show improvement in order to receive benefits.
According to the Kaiser Health News article, confusion over the law is one part of the problem. Another issue is that home health care workers are afraid they will not get paid if they take on long-term care patients. In an effort to crack down on Medicare fraud, Medicare is more likely to audit providers who provide long-term care. This encourages providers to favor patients who need short-term care.
In addition, Medicare’s Home Health Compare ratings website may be having a negative effect on home health care agencies' willingness to provide for long-term care patients. One measure of care qualify is whether a patient is improving. Because long-term care patients don't necessarily improve, they could lower an agencies rating. Also, under a rule that just went into effect, home health care agencies cannot dismiss a patient without a doctor's note. This may make agencies even more reluctant to take on long-term care patients.