A bipartisan group of 50 Senators, led by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), recently wrote to CMS, asking the agency to ease new face-to-face rules that may hinder Medicare beneficiaries’ access to home health care.

Specifically, the letter asked CMS to rescind the narrative requirement and instead accept physicians’ sworn certifications that patients require home health services. Alternatively, the Senators also proposed permitting the use of current physician documentation requirements and adding a line certifying a face-to-face encounter. As a further alternative, CMS was also asked to consider that non-physician practitioners and home health professionals be allowed to complete the patient history and need for services paperwork.

The letter stated: “Without the easing of these documentation requirements, there will be a negative impact on home health recipients’ access to home health providers and home health care. Physicians will be discouraged from accepting home health patients, and therefore, hospital discharges will be delayed and/or patients will be sent to post-acute institutions, which entail higher costs for the patients and Medicare.”

The 50 Senators concluded by reiterating that the documentation requirements will result in a disproportionate impact on the neediest patients and will “perpetuate the bias towards institutional care,” and asked that CMS consider alternative requirements.