Medicare finalizes $60M cut to home health

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a $60 million cut to home health agencies for 2015 in a rule released Thursday.

The cut equals 0.3 percent of Medicare payments to the industry, which provides home-based medical services to roughly 3.5 million seniors.

Groups representing home healthcare providers have lobbied to stop the cuts, arguing they will endanger care for vulnerable patients with few clinical options.

The CMS said the rule will help advance the goal of delivering better care at lower costs.

"Provisions in these rules are helping to move our health-care system to one that values quality over quantity and focuses on reforms such as measuring for better health outcomes, focusing on disease prevention, helping patients return home, helping manage and improve chronic diseases, and fostering a more-efficient and coordinated healthcare system," the agency said in a statement.

In addition to the payment cut, the rule adjusted requirements for the face-to-face encounter between physician and Medicare recipient to certify eligibility for home health services, among other provisions.