One Medicare policy that has seen a boom in litigation, both civil and criminal, in the past few years relates to services being provided to allegedly homebound Medicare beneficiaries. Homebound status is defined in the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual and states that for a patient to be eligible to receive home health services under Medicare, a physician must certify that the patient is confined to the home. To be considered homebound, the Medicare beneficiary must be unable to leave the home without the assistance of a supporting device, special transportation, or the assistance of another person. A person could also be considered homebound, if leaving the home is contraindicated. In addition to the previous conditions, there must also be a considerable and taxing effort to leave the home. In other words, just because someone uses a cane does not mean that the person is homebound for purposes of Medicare home health services.
Although, there can be some differences of opinion as to whether there is an inability to leave the home to such an extent that it would take a considerable and taxing effort, a person who leaves their home to run errands or to engage in social activities will unlikely be considered homebound.
Below is the definition from the Medicare Policy Manual. If you have further questions, contact me by clicking here. Violations of this requirement can result in civil or criminal prosecutions, or recoupments among other possibilities. If you would like information about defending a Medicare Audit, or investigation click here. If you are aware of a provider falsely certifying Medicare beneficiaries as homebound, you may be able to file a claim and receive an award under the False Claims Act. For more information about the False Claims Act, click here.
Medicare Benefit Policy Manual – Chapter 7 – Home Health Services
30.1.1 – Patient Confined to the Home (Rev. 208, Issued: 04-22-15, Effective: 01-01-15, Implementation: 05-11-15) For a patient to be eligible to receive covered home health services under both Part A and Part B, the law requires that a physician certify in all cases that the patient is confined to his/her home. For purposes of the statute, an individual shall be considered “confined to the home” (homebound) if the following two criteria are met:
The patient must either:
– Because of illness or injury, need the aid of supportive devices such as crutches, canes, wheelchairs, and walkers; the use of special transportation; or the assistance of another person in order to leave their place of residence
– Have a condition such that leaving his or her home is medically contraindicated.
If the patient meets one of the Criteria-One conditions, then the patient must ALSO meet two additional requirements defined in Criteria-Two below.
– There must exist a normal inability to leave home;
– Leaving home must require a considerable and taxing effort