Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Estimating the Amount of a Medicare Lien

Posted by Mary Skinner

I am trying to estimate the amount of a Medicare lien. Does anyone know whether Medicare pays for home nursing care or home pharmacy infusion services?

Pennsylvania Attorney

If a patient needs skilled nursing or rehabilitation care at home, either Medicare Part A (following a minimum three-day hospital stay) or Part B (no hospital-stay requirement) can cover it. The care may be provided in the patient's home or anywhere else he or she stays. If a patient meets the requirements to qualify for home care, Medicare can cover skilled nursing care and physical and speech therapy as needed while the patient recovers from an illness, condition, or injury. Medicare also covers needed medical supplies and equipment.
Medicare doesn't generally cover non-medical at-home care and assistance, including meals and housekeeping. However, if a patient is getting Medicare coverage for skilled nursing or therapy at home, Medicare generally pays for limited visits by an aide from a home care agency to help him or her with personal care. If Medicare covers skilled care for the patient, it can also cover the services of an occupational therapist to help him or her relearn how to accomplish daily personal care and household tasks safely.

As for the home pharmacy infusion services Medicare Part B, there is some coverage for certain therapies administered using durable medical equipment (a mechanical or electronic external infusion pump). Unfortunately, only a select few therapies are covered and only under very specific conditions. These include some anti-infective, some chemotherapy drug, some inotropic therapies (e.g., dobutamine), some pain management and a few other therapies. For parenteral and enteral nutrition therapies, there can be coverage in Part B only if the need for the therapy is documented to be for at least 90 days and other coverage criteria are met. There may be coverage for intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) for primary immune deficiency patients but the supplies and equipment are not paid for. More specific information can be obtained by contacting the Medicare entities called Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractors (DME MACs). The coverage criteria for home infusion that all contractors follow are found from a DME MAC.

For home nursing visits needed for beneficiaries receiving infusion therapy, there can be Medicare Part A coverage under Medicare’s home health benefit only if the patients are serviced by a Medicare-certified home health agency, as well as considered to be homebound and in need of intermittent (not 24 hour) home nursing.

My best,
Mary Skinner