On April 5, 2023, a federal court in D.C. dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Center for Medicare Advocacy on behalf of beneficiaries with chronic, disabling conditions who cannot access the home health aide services they require. By law, Medicare’s home health benefit covers up to 28-35 hours per week of aides to provide hands-on, personal care to assist with activities such as dressing, toileting, bathing, feeding, and walking. Yet Medicare’s policies and practices have unlawfully restricted the availability and coverage of home health aide services for individuals with long-term disabilities, forcing them to patch together informal and inadequate alternatives and putting them at risk of entering hospitals or nursing homes.
The named plaintiffs in the case are two disabled individuals with quadriplegia and two national organizations that serve people with multiple sclerosis and ALS. The district court accepted that the plaintiffs have been harmed, including by “suffering deteriorating health during times of intermittent care,” and having to “resort to institutional settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes, to obtain care.” Johnson v. Becerra, No. 1:22-cv-03024 (TNM), 2023 WL 2784874, *2 (D.D.C. Apr. 5, 2023). But the court held that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the case, claiming it is too speculative that a favorable court decision would “redress” the plaintiffs’ injuries. Id. at *9.
The Center is analyzing the court’s ruling and considering next steps. The disappointing decision highlights the need for action by other authorities to address the drastic plummeting of Medicare-covered home health aide services that has occurred since 1998.
- Read the decision here.
April 6, 2023 – A. Bers