Implications of 2020 Skilled Home Healthcare Payment Reform for Persons with Dementia

Claire K. Ankuda, Bruce Leff, Christine S. Ritchie, Omari Khalid Rahman, Katelyn B. Ferreira, Evan Bollens-Lund, Katherine A. Ornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The Medicare home health benefit provides episodic skilled home-based clinical care to the growing population of community-dwelling persons with dementia. As of January 1, 2020, home health payment changed: episodes shortened from 60 to 30 days, and episodes initiated in the community are now reimbursed at lower rates than episodes following institutional stays. We aim to assess the potential impact of these policy changes on this population. DESIGN/SETTING: Cross-sectional study using the Medicare claims-linked National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS). PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1,867 NHATS respondents who received home health between 2011 and 2017. MEASUREMENTS: Dementia was defined through both self-report and a validated cognitive assessment through NHATS. We described the demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics of older adults with dementia receiving home health compared with those without dementia. We then assessed the association of dementia with both receiving community-initiated home health (vs postinstitutional) and visit timing during the home health episode. RESULTS: Over a follow-up period of just over 4 years, 50.2% of persons with dementia used home health compared with 15.3% of persons without dementia. Most home health provided to persons with dementia was initiated in the community (61%), compared with 37% of episodes provided to persons without dementia. Persons with dementia were more likely to receive care in days 31 to 60 of the episode compared with those without dementia. CONCLUSIONS: Shortening episodes and reimbursing community-initiated episodes at lower rates may disproportionately impact the highly vulnerable population of older adults with dementia, who receive more community-initiated care over longer time periods. Our work highlights the need to better understand the unique role of home health in meeting gaps in both acute- and long-term care systems for older adults with dementia. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:2303–2309, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2303-2309
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume68
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Medicare
  • dementia
  • home health
  • post-acute care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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