Legislation Aims to Remove Home Health Therapy Barriers

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers have reintroduced legislation in the House and Senate that would enable occupational therapists to open Medicare home health cases, making home health therapy services more accessible.

The two identical bills, H.R. 3127 in the House and S.1725 in the Senate, more commonly known as the Medicare Home Health Flexibility Act of 2019, aim to change the current Medicare rules, which allows nurses, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists to establish eligibility for home health services, but not occupational therapists. The legislation is being hailed as an attempt by lawmakers to reduce delays in care, as well as to make it easier for older adults to access home health care.

“It’s commonsense that the earlier seniors can start needed therapies, the sooner treatments can start having a positive effect,” Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee and Sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Home health services are a critical part of our health care system, and I am proud to partner with Senator [Todd] Young on this legislation that will help to streamline the process for initiating Medicare home health therapy services for Maryland seniors and others nationwide who need home care while recovering from injury or illness.”

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