Workforce, Reimbursement Challenges Creating Shortage of Pediatric Home Health Providers

June 11, 2019 - Home Health Care News

Despite soaring demand, a dire lack of qualified caregivers and a complex patchwork of state-by-state payment mechanisms are contributing to a severe shortage of pediatric home health agencies operating in the U.S. market. 

National Association of ACOs Calls for Wider Use of Home Health, Looser Requirements

June 2, 2019 - Home Health Care News

The National Association of Accountable Care Organizations (NAACOS) is calling on the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to loosen home health requirements for new Medicare alternative payment models. In doing so, ACOs will be able to better deliver care and save money. 

Senators to Introduce Assistive Technology Bills for Aging in Place

May 22, 2019 - Home Health Care News

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) plan to introduce new legislation to make assistive technology more accessible to seniors and people with disabilities. The goal is to make it easier for people to age in place.  

Two-Thirds of New York’s Private-Sector Job Creation in 2018 Linked to Home Care

May 15, 2019 - Home Health Care News

Despite recruitment and retention remaining an industry-wide pain point, home care positions have become a major component of job growth in New York  wherein home care accounted for two out of every five new private-sector jobs in 2017 — and two out of three in 2018. New York outpaced the rest of the U.S., with 27,100 home health care jobs added in New York compared to 24,300 in the entire rest of the nation. 

Amazon’s New HIPAA-Compliant Alexa Skills Could Open Doors for Home-Based Care Agencies

April 04, 2019 - Home Health Care News

Amazon’s Alexa now boasts HIPAA-compliant skills, a development that could create new opportunities for home-based care companies and the senior clients they serve. Amazon launched Alexa’s secure medical skill kit recently through which select entities are allowed to build Alexa skills that securely send and receive protected patient health information.

CMS Adds More In-Home Care Services as Medicare Advantage Benefits for 2020

April 02, 2019 - Home Health Care News

For the second year in a row, the CMS has widened the scope of supplemental benefits Medicare Advantage (MA) plans can offer. CMS is also giving the MA program a pay raise to help drive the expansion. The 2020 rules from CMS give MA plans permission to cover benefits that “have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of beneficiaries with chronic conditions. 

House Lawmakers Pass Short-Term Money Follows The Person Extension

April 01, 2019 - Home Health Care News

The House recently passed the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act, which provides an extra $20 million in funding for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration for fiscal year 2019. The Senate is expected to take up the bipartisan bill soon. 

CMS Launches AI Challenges For Predicting Unplanned Hospital And SNF Admissions

March 31, 2019 - Home Health Care News

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the launch of a three-stage challenge designed to encourage the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care. As part of the challenge, participants will be tasked with using AI to better predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions — already a key focus for many home health providers. 

Telehealth And Home Health Agencies’ PDGM Therapy Problems

March 31, 2019 - Home Health Care News

An underutilized solution agencies can explore is supplementing therapy services with telehealth and telemonitoring when appropriate. A lot of agencies may not take advantage of telehealth because they look at a therapy visit as a revenue driver but under PDGM — where visits don’t drive revenue, but the potential for the positive is there.

Patient Outcomes After Hospital Discharge To Home With Home Health Care Vs. To A Skilled Nursing Facility

March 11, 2019 - JAMA Network

In a cohort study of Medicare data of more than 17 million hospitalizations using instrumental variable methods to account for confounding by indication, compared with discharging patients to skilled nursing facilities, discharging patients to home with home health care was associated with a higher 30-day rate of readmission but a significantly lower Medicare payment for initial postacute care and for the total 60-day episode of care including hospitalization, all postacute care, and subsequent readmissions.

Trump Administration Calls for Medicaid Overhaul, $846 Billion in Medicare Cuts

March 11, 2019 - Home Health Care News

The Trump administration released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, calling for government-wide domestic spending cuts of 5%, a site-neutral payment system for health care providers and a major Medicaid overhaul.

CMS Gains PRA Approval For Home Health Review Choice Demo

March 05, 2019 - Marwood Group Research, LLC

CMS has announced that it has received PRA approval to proceed with the home health Review Choice demonstration program that has been on hold since December 10. CMS is expected to announce the start date of the program in Illinois shortly. As a reminder, CMS will later expand the program to include Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.

CMS Moves Step Closer to Required EVV Survey

February 14, 2019 - Home Health Care News

Federal health care policymakers have taken another step toward rolling out a required nationwide electronic visit verification (EVV) survey. The 21st Century Cures Act originally required home care providers and state agencies to begin adopting EVV systems by January 1, 2019. However, Bipartisan legislation signed by President Donald Trump in July pushed that deadline back to the start of 2020.

CMS Advances Interoperability And Patient Access to Health Data through New Proposals

February 08, 2019 - CMS.gov 

CMS proposed policy changes supporting its MyHealthEData initiative to improve patient access and advance electronic data exchange and care coordination throughout the healthcare system. The Interoperability and Patient Access Proposed Rule outlines opportunities to make patient data more useful and transferable through open, secure, standardized, and machine-readable formats while reducing restrictive burdens on healthcare providers.

CMMI Announces 2020 Changes To VBID Model, Including Hospice

February 05, 2019 - BRG Healthcare 

The CMS Innovation Center announced new options for plans under the Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) model, including an option for MA plans to offer a hospice benefit (2021) and tailoring benefits to particular enrollees (2020).

CMS Lifts Moratoria On Home Health After 5 Years

February 04, 2019 - Home Health Care News

The long-standing moratoria on new Medicare home health agencies is no longer in effect anywhere in the US. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) allowed the temporary ban to expire on Jan. 30, a move that will likely improve patient access to home-based care in related markets.

CMS Announces ACO Overhaul, Enhances Telehealth Options

December 21, 2018 - Home Health Care News

CMS has released new rules overhauling Medicare’s accountable care organizations (ACO) program. Called “Pathways to Success,” the new policies shorten risk-free periods and offer more regulatory flexibility, including for providing telehealth to people in their homes, among other changes.

CMS Finalizes OASIS-D Guidance Manual

December 20, 2018 - Home Health Care News

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a final OASIS-D guidance manual. The updates are scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. Specifically, the manual provides guidance for home health agencies on how to ensure the collection of high-quality and accurate OASIS data. It includes both general data collection conventions and item-specific guidance, as well as links to resources for home health agencies.

NAHC: ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Proposal Would Affect Home Care Workforce

December 12, 2018 - Home Health Care News

A proposed change to the nation’s immigration policies could spell further trouble for home care providers that are already facing steep workforce challenges, according to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).

Immigrants Play Large Role in Combating Home Health Caregiver Shortage

December 05, 2018 - Home Health Care News

A large proportion of home health workers in the U.S. are immigrants, according to a new study compiled with census data. But stricter immigration policies proposed by the Trump administration could reduce the number of foreign-born health care workers and further fuel the nationwide caregiver shortage.

CMS Will Pay For Remote Patient Monitoring by Home Health Agencies

October 30, 2018 - Home Health Care News

The CMS issued a final rule that allows home health agencies to bill Medicare for remote patient monitoring. Remote patient monitoring allows providers to collect health information about patients digitally and studies show the service results in more live-time data-sharing, which can lead to more tailored care and better health outcomes.

Agenda of CMS Regulatory Actions

October 29, 2018 - BRG Healthcare

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released the Administration’s Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. HHS also released its regulatory priorities for FY 2019.

Home Health Quality on the Upswing, Readmission Rates Hold Steady

October 01, 2018 - Home Health Care News

The quality of home health care improved across most major domains between 2016 and 2017, although the rate of hospital admissions remained static for the fifth straight year. The greatest improvement came in the “got better at getting in and out of bed” measure, which ticked up from 62% in 2016 to 68% in 2017. There was no change in the “had to be admitted to hospital” measure, which has remained at 16% since 2013.

New Bill Would Allow Health Savings Account Use for Home Care Services

September 24, 2018 - Home Health Care News

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives would make it possible for patients to use a health savings account (HSA) for qualified home care services. The term qualified home care means a contract that provides three or more services to a patient such as: assistance with eating, assistance with toileting, assistance with bathing, assistance with dressing, assistance with continence or medication adherence, according to the bill text.

Hospice Remains Underutilized By Heart Failure Patients

September 05, 2018 - Home Health Care News

Over the last nine years, the number of Medicare heart failure patients discharged to hospice care has increased from 2% in 2005 to 5% in 2014. Despite the uptick in utilization, about 25% of heart failure patients discharged to hospice die within three days, unable to take full advantage of the Medicare hospice benefit.

CMS Faces Decisions In Shaping Medicare Advantage Home Care Benefits

August 21, 2018 - Home Health Care News

In a major change for the home care industry, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have been granted new flexibility this year, which will allow them to cover non-skilled on-home services for the first time.

Home Health Providers to Tackle Rural Workforce Crisis in New Pilot

August 08, 2018 - Home Health Care News

A new demonstration program is trying to come up with solutions for shortages of caregivers in the rural areas by working with home health providers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

How Universal Design is Helping Home Health Providers Improve Care

July 08, 2018 - Home Health Care News

Home design proves to be an important tool used by several of them—including Kendal at Home– who are turning to a certification program that works with an innovative, immersive “living laboratory.” Launched in 2015, the Louisville, Colorado-based Living in Place Institute works with the Universal Design Living Laboratory to help home health providers identify an address potential obstacles in their clients’ homes.

House Bill to Support Hospice Training Moves Closer to Vote

July 08, 2018 - Home Health Care News

Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) legislation, aimed at raising awareness and increasing the quality of hospice and palliative care has made it out of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and is now advancing to the full committee for a vote.

CMS Proposes 2.1% Payment Update for Home Health and Implementation of New Payment System In 2020

July 02, 2018 - Home Health Care News

CMS released the proposed home health rates for CY 2019, under which home health agencies would receive a rate update of 2.1%, or an increase in Medicare payments of $400 million for CY 2019. As expected, the agency is also proposing to implement a new model of payment, the Patient-Driven Groupings Model on January 1, 2020. 

Providers Side With MedPAC on Changes to Home Health Referral Rules

July 01, 2018 - Home Health Care News

To help fix the issue of referral patterns, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should consider giving discharge planners more authority and flexibility in terms of guiding patients out of hospitals and toward top home health agencies, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended in its latest report to Congress. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology in Home Care and Hospitals

June 07, 2018 - Home Health Care News

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in health care is poised to soar throughout the globe in the coming years, including to support preventive care in people’s homes. 

GAO Recommends Extending Prior Authorization

May 22, 2018 - Home Health Care News

Government Accountability Office (GAO) is urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)  to extend prior authorization across the general health care space as the latter put it on hold indefinitely in 2017

Louisiana Medicaid Recipients May Lose Home Care Benefits

May 22, 2018 - Home Health Care News

Medicaid recipients in Louisiana, are being warned via mailing notices by the the Louisiana Department of Health as they may soon lose benefits due to proposed state budget cuts 

CMS Launches Rural Health Strategy With Telehealth Aims

May 15, 2018 - Home Health Care News

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new rural health strategy, targeting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries located in rural America with an aim to boost telehealth and telemedicine, a growing area of in-home based care.

Where The Home Health Aide Shortage Will Hit Hardest By 2025

May 06, 2018 - Home Health Care News

The pace of demand of home health aides will far exceed the supply of health care workers over the next few years, considering their shortage in the industry with the number of new job openings expected to grow by 32%. 

Humana To Address Social Determinants Of Health In New MA Benefits

May 02, 2018 - Home Health Care News

Insurance giant, Humana is working on expanding its Medicare Advantage benefits as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an  expansion of supplemental benefits for MA plans in 2019, including the addition of non-skilled in-home supports and Humana is undergoing the 2019 bid process for MA plan benefits. 

New Long-Term Care Medicare Benefit Proposed

May 02, 2018 - Home Health Care News

A newly proposed Medicare benefit would extend services to eligible beneficiaries for long-term care, a proposal contained within a discussion draft of a bill by Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), released at a roundtable discussion with aging and disability advocates.

MedPac’s Recommendations To Congress

March 22, 2018 - BRG Healthcare

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its March 2018 Report to Congress assessing Medicare payment policy, analyzing payment adequacy in fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare, reviews the status of Medicare Advantage (MA) and the prescription drug benefit (Part D), and includes a mandated report on telehealth in Medicare

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