The long-term care industry has experienced dynamic shifts over the past several decades. One of these shifts has been an embrace of home health care among America’s seniors, who increasingly shun traditional nursing homes in favor of remaining in their own homes. Now, a bill making its way through the United States Congress may present flexible options for seniors choosing home care over senior facility care. Despite pushback from a leading health care association, the bipartisan bill stands to improve care choices for seniors. For long-term care facility owners, understanding the provisions of the proposed bill is a risk management step that supports the protection of nursing home insurance.
The Choose Home Care Act of 2021
Introduced on July 26, 2021 by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Todd Young (R-IN), and several others on both sides of the aisle, the Choose Home Care Act of 2021 was designed to provide improved health care options for seniors who wish to receive care in their homes. The bipartisan bill has received enthusiastic support from members of Congress, who view it as an important step forward for Medicare beneficiaries who would prefer to recover at home after hospitalizations rather than being discharged to a skilled nursing facility or nursing home. Under current laws, the return-to-home option has been prohibited. The legislation provides options for a wide range of home health services, including transportation, telemedicine, personal care and meal assistance, primary care, and adaptations for homeowners.
Praise and Pushback from Leading Health Care Groups
The Choose Home Care Act of 2021’s announcement received widespread support from home health care and consumer organizations throughout the United States, including:
- National Association for Home Care and Hospice
- Partnership for Quality Home Health Care
- National Council on Aging
LeadingAge, a senior housing and care provider trade group which represents over 5000 partners, applauded the Congressional bill, stating that it meets the changing preferences and needs of America’s seniors. The bill would supplement existing home health care benefits under Medicare and expand available services health care providers could deliver to home settings. The bill would also create substantial savings for the Medicare program; an analysis of a prior version of the bill’s language led to an estimate of more than $247 million in annual savings.
Unfortunately, support for the bill has not been unanimous. The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has pushed back on the proposed legislation, arguing that the Act would create confusion over choices and increase the risk of higher out-of-pocket expenses for seniors. The group also indicated that it believes the proposed bill would put nursing homes and other facilities at risk of losing vital funding, potentially resulting in excessive claims against nursing hone insurance policies and other forms of financial protection. In a volatile and shifting marketplace, protecting healthcare facilities from the loss of funds can devastate businesses, further putting vulnerable seniors at risk.
For now, nursing homes must continue to manage overhead expenses and ensure their nursing home insurance policies reflect emerging risk profiles. Although these facilities are not likely to be threatened by the legislation, The Choose Home Care Act of 2021 stands to reshape the way the long-term care industry operates, giving more seniors the choice to receive care in the home.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.