Medicare's home health payments may not be adequately meeting costs for non-routine medical supplies, according to a report by the General Accounting Office. Though Medicare pays for the average costs of such supplies, adjusted payments may not reimburse adequately for variations in supply costs for different types of patients, the report said. In addition, home health agencies may be paid the same amount for treating patients with different supply costs. As a result, home health patients who need costly supplies may have difficulty accessing services and home health agencies may be financially disadvantaged.
The report suggests excluding some non-routine supplies from the home health payment and reimbursing for them separately. Although the CMS has asked home health agencies for data on the use and cost of such supplies, information so far has not been provided, making it difficult for the agency to evaluate whether the current payment system needs to be revamped. -- by Tony Fong