Smucker, Joyce unveil bipartisan Medicare Home Health Accessibility Act

U.S. Reps. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) and John Joyce (R-PA) on Jan. 30 proposed a bipartisan bill that would ensure occupational therapy (OT) can qualify Medicare beneficiaries for home care.

“Our common-sense measure will ensure home health orders are better tailored to each patient as well as maximize their ability to thrive at home and avoid costly rehospitalizations,” said Rep. Smucker, who sponsored the Medicare Home Health Accessibility Act, H.R. 7148, alongside three original cosponsors, including Rep. Joyce and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).

The legislation would enable OT to be ordered as a stand-alone home health service for Medicare beneficiaries, if appropriate, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

Currently, OT services are the only skilled service that does not qualify a beneficiary for Medicare’s Part A home health benefit, the summary says.

“The Medicare Home Health Accessibility Act will ensure beneficiaries can receive the care they need in a setting that more and more prefer — at home,” Rep. Smucker said. “I thank my colleagues for joining me in introducing and advocating for this legislation’s passage.”

Rep. Joyce pointed out that H.R. 7148 will allow more Medicare beneficiaries to lead safe, independent lives.

“Access to in-home occupational therapy — especially in rural communities — is a game changer for patients who wish to heal and recover in the comfort of their homes,” said Rep. Joyce. “This common-sense legislation would be a victory for thousands of patients nationwide, and it’s critical that the Medicare Home Health Accessibility Act receives a vote as soon as possible.”

The measure has gained support from the American Occupational Therapy Association and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.

“Home- and community-based care is a critical part of our healthcare system, and many of my constituents rely on home care while recovering from injury or illness,” said Rep. Doggett. “Unnecessary barriers to receiving health care at home leaves seniors with fewer choices and risks higher medical bills. This legislation will provide more patient choice and access.”