Amazon Care plans to lobby Congress for home care reimbursement alongside hospitals

Amazon Care plans to lobby Congress for home care reimbursement alongside hospitals

Health tech companies like Amazon Care, DispatchHealth, and Signify Health joined forces with major health systems Intermountain Healthcare and Ascension to form Moving Health Home—a coalition that will lobby Congress to make long-term changes to home healthcare reimbursement policies. Top priorities of the coalition include advocating providers be reimbursed for home health visits at the same rate as primary care office visits and promoting Medicare coverage for high-acuity home care.

Here’s how we got here:

  • Last March, the CMS announced the Hospital Without Walls program, granting hospitals the ability to temporarily transfer patients to other facilities like ambulatory surgery centers, but still receive payments via Medicare. And in November, the CMS broadened this policy with its Acute Hospital at Home initiative, enabling hospitals to treat Medicare patients at home while offering 1:1 payment parity with hospital care.
  • Companies like Biofourmis and Deloitte were able to pursue at-home care programs thanks to expanded CMS regulations. For example, in December, Biofourmis and Brigham and Women’s Hospital were able to expand their Hospital@Home solution nationwide, enabling clinicians to remotely monitor a patient through biosensors in combination with at-home visits from a patient’s care team.

Lobbying Congress is costly, but with companies like Amazon on board, hospitals gain access to more funds and muscle to advocate for permanent home health policies. For example, in 2020, health system Ascension spent over $1 million on lobbying expenditures, while Amazon reportedly spent over $18 million alone on its lobbying activity that same year.

Amazon’s participation in the new Moving Health Home coalition could also signal its plans to build out its at-home care offerings for seniors. For context, we predicted Amazon would eventually roll out a consumer-facing version of its employee virtual care pilot, Amazon Care. And while the tech giant has dabbled in home healthcare by offering Amazon employees access to mobile nurses for at-home exams and treatments, its interest in reimbursement policies could suggest it plans to build out its current initiatives and provide hospital-level care at home once Amazon Care is available to the public. Including more complex home health offerings could help Amazon tap Medicare Advantage (MA) patients, which would be a fruitful business opportunity given the sheer size of this population: The percent of MA beneficiaries is expected to balloon from 39% in 2020 to 51% by 2030, per KFF data.

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