Home health agencies are laying off employees and “aggressively “cutting physical, occupation and speech therapy services for patients in response to the Patient Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), according to a report by Kaiser Health News.
The reported layoffs are reminiscent of concerns shared by therapist groups about skilled nursing layoffs and reorganization plans following the implementation of the Patient Driven Payment Model, which went into effect on Oct. 1.
The new reimbursement system for home health providers went into effect at the start of the new year. The new model bases reimbursement on several key factors, including a patient’s underlying diagnosis and the amount of time services are being used for, the report explained.
Agencies now have a stronger financial incentive to serve patients who need short-term therapy and less incentive for those who need extensive physical, occupation and speech therapy. Advocates believe agencies may soon begin to offer “too little therapy.”
“We are very concerned about that potential,” Kara Gainer, director of regulatory affairs for the American Physical Therapy Association, told Kaiser.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is monitoring the implementation of PDGM but said it doesn’t expect home health agencies to make any drastic changes to its services provided.
“We do not expect home health agencies to under-supply care or services; reduce the number of visits in response to payment; or inappropriately discharge a patient receiving Medicare home health services as these would be violations of [Medicare] conditions of participation,” a CMS spokesman told the news agency.