WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 8, 2016)—A new national poll of nearly 2,000 registered voters over age 65 sponsored by Bring the Vote Home (BTVH) found that a large majority of U.S. seniors oppose a Medicare policy requiring a government contractor to approve claims for physician-prescribed home health care services, which are often recommended by doctors for elderly patients following hospitalization to ensure a smooth transition from the acute setting to the home. These results follow the recent implementation of a pre-claim review demonstration by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which will impose burdensome documentation requirements on home health agencies and on referring physicians that home health leaders warn could lead to care delays and increased health care costs.

The national poll, conducted by the polling and market research division of Morning Consult, found that American seniors do not favor government interference in health care and believe that health care costs will rise as a result.

The results also show 83 percent of U.S. seniors agree that a doctor should be able to prescribe medications and services they choose for their patients without the government interfering. Under the pre-claim review demonstration, doctors prescribing home health care must cooperate with home health agencies to provide a broad array of eligibility-related documentation and clinical support materials that are subjectively reviewed for completeness by government contractors. Other key findings of the recent BTVH poll include:

  • Four-out-of-five (80 percent) of seniors think it is likely that requiring a government contractor to approve claims for Medicare home health care services will result in delayed care for patients in need of prompt care.
  • 77 percent of seniors think requiring a government contractor to approve care will increase the cost of Medicare.
  • 75 percent of seniors think requiring a government contractor to approve care will increase out-of-pocket costs.
  • 76 percent of seniors most trust health care professionals (primary care physicians and nurses) to handle issues related to health care (compared to 6 percent trusting government).

“For the third month in a row, BTVH polling results reveal that when becoming educated on the topic of government approval of home health services, senior voters oppose policies that allow the government to interfere with physician decision-making,” stated Colin Roskey, Executive Vice President of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “Further, while CMS maintains that pre-claim review demonstration will reduce fraudulent Medicare claims in order to protect patients and the Medicare program, a majority of seniors did not agree that fraudulent claims will decrease as a result.”

In fact, the poll results show less than half of surveyed seniors—45 percent—believe that government contractor approval of home health services will result in a decrease in fraudulent home health claims.

“We hope CMS will heed the concerns of senior voters and press “pause” on the pre-claim review demonstration,” added Roskey. “Instead, we encourage collaboration between policy makers and health care stakeholders to develop policies that target fraud and abuse and streamline eligibility documentation standards for physicians and home health agencies.”

Morning Consult conducted the national survey of 1,931 registered voters from July 29–30, 2016. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of ±2%. View the survey charts here.

Visit bringthevotehome.org for more information.