HOME HEALTH: Oklahoma Providers Try To Block New Rules
The Oklahoma chapter of the Home Care Association of America filed suit in federal court yesterday to prevent the government from implementing a new Medicare payment system that some providers say could force them out of business. The state chapter, 40 members strong, is worried the new system will jeopardize patient care, Tulsa CPA David Randall testified yesterday. "Some have even expressed the fear [the patients] will die," Randall said. But the Tulsa World reports that federal officials "say the proposed changes in Medicare are needed to help eliminate fraud and keep fly-by-night operators out of the home health business." Randall said patients and providers are not the only ones who could be affected by the new system -- if only 1,600 (2.5%) of Oklahoma's home care patients "were forced into Medicaid nursing homes, that could cost taxpayers nearly $11 million" (Winslow, 7/9).
Last month, a federal district judge in Dallas rejected a similar challenge by Texas home care agencies, who said the new system would force them to close their doors and endanger patient care. U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders said the court had no authority to overturn the new rules unless they were found unconstitutional. The Medicare changes are "expected to drop reimbursements by 26% to 53% per agency this year" (7/9).