Tampa, Fla. (July 22, 2003) – More and more, Americans benefit from care provided by home health agencies. In 2002 alone, 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries received, on average, 26 visits from a home health care professional. Baby boomers and the loved ones they care for often need to make critical decisions about home health care with limited understanding of the care, often while recovering from an illness, wound, surgery, stroke, or other disabling event.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers free resources to help in the decision-making process. The CMS publication Medicare and Home Health Care is available online at www.medicare.gov, then select the “Publications” link, or by calling

1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). The publication provides information on home health care and Medicare coverage, and provides suggestions of questions to ask prospective home health agencies.

CMS introduced a new resource called Home Health Compare with information on Medicare-certified home health agencies. Data and measures of quality are available to help make more informed decisions about home health care.

The eleven quality measures available for home health agencies address:

  1. Patients who get better at getting dressed
  2. Patients who get better getting to and from the toilet
  3. Patients who get better at bathing
  4. Patients who stay the same (don’t get worse) at bathing
  5. Patients who are confused less often
  6. Patients who have less pain when moving around
  7. Patients who had to be admitted to the hospital
  8. Patients who need urgent, unplanned medical care
  9. Patients who get better at getting in and out of bed
  10. Patients who get better at walking or moving around
  11. Patients who get better at taking their medicines correctly (by mouth)

Quality of care is an important consideration, and the new publicly available measures can help make decisions easier. CMS also reports quality measures on nursing homes.

For a complete list of Medicare and Medicaid-certified home health care agencies, and to find out how they compare in quality, look at www.medicare.gov, then select the “Home Health Compare” link. Or call 1-800- MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to speak with a customer service representative who can answer your questions.