Quality Data Now Available on Home Health Care Agencies

Consumers in eight states are now able to compare'“for the first time--the quality of care provided by Medicare-certified home health care agencies in their state.

Under a pilot program announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), consumers in the eight states--Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin--are now able to find out how individual home health care agencies are doing on 11 health quality measures. The measures include the percentage of patients who demonstrate improvement at getting dressed, walking, taking medications, and have less pain when moving around. Consumers will be able to compare performance on these and other measures with state averages for the same measures.

Home health care is provided to people who have a medical need for skilled care. A home health agency offers health care and personal care to patients in their own home, and in many cases, teaches them to care for themselves. Nationally, about 3.5 million elderly and disabled Americans received care from nearly 7,000 Medicare-certified home health agencies in 2001.

CMS plans to expand the home health care quality initiative nationally in the fall, based on the experience of the initial states.

A similar quality initiative was launched nationally last November for nursing homes and one is expected to be begun for hospitals later this year. See ElderLawAnswers news article, "Report Cards on 17,000 Nursing Homes Released," Nov. 14, 2002).

The home health care quality data is available on the Web at: https://www.medicare.gov/HHCompare/Home.asp

or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE