As Pandemic Ends, Other Home Care Challenges Await

McKnight’s Home Care | By Liz Berger
No sooner does one problem end than another one begins. That’s the theme this week from McKnight’s Home Care.

The big story Thursday, of course, was the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. May 11 essentially sounded the death knell for the pandemic (not the novel coronavirus, sadly). Such uplifting news. After more than three years of fretting and masking and quarantining and isolating, we can actually start to think of life as it used to be — with caveats, of course. (Thanks to the dreaded virus, life may never be the same, but it’s certainly better and more relaxed than it has been these last three years.)

But just when you thought you were home free, you scroll down the page and other concerns start to creep in again. The second piece of content Thursday — a podcast — is about an impending Medicare home health proposed health rule. Geez. Do you have to bring that up again? you ask. We just got over the last one.

It sure seems that way, but it’s May, which means we are mere weeks away from possibly more bad news on the Medicare home health payment front. William Dombi of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and Joanne Cunningham of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare are cautiously optimistic the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will not slap the second half of the temporary behavioral adjustments on facilities. But we will have to wait and see.

And then, of course, there is a fresh worry on providers’ minds: a proposed mandate for Medicaid home care worker compensation. Specifically, CMS is considering requiring that 80% of Medicaid payments go toward home health, homemaker and personal care wages. Yikes is NAHC’s response, echoing other reactions from the field.

So here we are: one tough issue — the pandemic — dispensed with and two others on the doorstep. Never a dull moment, as they say. I suppose the silver lining is we can meet others without masks to talk about these events.