Listen to the Free Excellence in Therapy Forum from Delta Health Tech

December 29, 2010

Initial Findings from the Delta National Excellence in Therapy Forum

Close to 100 of home care’s leading therapists, all either appointed or nominated by their state associations, participated in an intensive, highly focused effort to generate tips and guidelines that can be shared with the homecare industry.

The Webinar outlined some of the key tips and strategies produced at the Delta National Excellence in Therapy Forum to assist you, your leadership team and your agency clinicians with the care you provide to your patients.

Homecare providers who were unable to attend the Webinar may view a free recording and download the Webinar handout at www.deltatherapies.com/webinar.html.  Approximately 45 minutes.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Face-to-Face Enforcement DELAYED

December 23, 2010

Enforcement of the face-to-face encounter requirement from a recent CMS Final Rule will be delayed for three months thanks to a coordinated and effective advocacy effort.

Home Care Alliance has been informed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has sent instructions to its contractors advising them that home health agencies and hospices are to be allowed to use the first quarter of 2011 to implement procedures to meet face-to-face encounters requirements.

It is vitally important to note that providers should continue to implement face-to-face encounters as soon as possible. Doing so will enable the collection of information about provider and beneficiary problems and pitfalls related to this regulation that need to be addressed with CMS. According to NAHC, CMS has plans to begin meetings with home health and hospice representatives, and other stakeholders, early in January to answer remaining questions and resolve problems as they come to light.

According to VNAA, the 3-month transition period will not be extended and CMS called on national organizations to take action and to work with CMS during the transition period.

This delay represents a victory for home health and hospice and is a prime example of how advocacy is effective in making a difference. The member agencies of HCA joined others nationwide in a great effort and, together with other associations, were able to convince CMS that a delay was necessary. Massachusetts was also fortunate to have great support from the federal legislative delegation.

For the purpose of continuing with implementation, NAHC has outlined the requirements for physician signature and the regulatory basis as to why after January 1, 2011, date stamps will no longer be accepted if the physician does not sign AND date.

Details are available in the Medicare General Information, Eligibility and Entitlement Manual under section 30.1. That requirement is also addressed in this summary.

HCA will provide more information as it becomes available.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


HCA Revives Holiday Radio Ad

December 22, 2010

The Home Care Alliance is promoting its website and the services provided by member agencies across the state in a new set of online radio advertisements.

WODS 103.3-FM is Boston’s oldies music station and is one of the most popular stations in the region, especially once they turn on the holiday music from mid-November through December 25th. The Alliance is running an ad in a rotation on the WODS home page and is also running a 30-second holiday ad called “Home for the Holidays” the week leading up to Christmas. A shorter 15-second ad, which is more generic, will run the week between Christmas and New Years Day. Both ads are for listeners streaming the station online.

Hear our 30-Second ad here.

Hear our 15-second ad here.

Hear the ad live by streaming 103.3-FM on your computer, or see the HCA ad on the WODS home page.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


National Organizations Weigh in on Face-to-Face Encounter Rule

December 17, 2010

Arguing that patients could lose access to important services or experience unacceptable delays, a coalition of national organizations advocating for elders sent a letter to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick urging for a six-month transition period relative to the physician face-to-face encounter requirement.

The 26 organizations asking for the delay include AARP, Alzheimer’s Association, American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA).

The transition period requested, according to the letter, urges that home care and hospice  be held harmless while other providers, patients, and caregivers would become better educated on the new rules. Meanwhile, CMS could work out operational issues.

The full letter to Administrator Berwick is available here.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


New Home Health Advance Beneficiary Notice Available

December 14, 2010

The “new,” or revised,  Home Health Advance Beneficiary Notice (HHABN) is out of the clearance process and available on the CMS website.

Agencies can start using them immediately, although all HHABNs with an expiration date of 08/31/09 — which was on the older form — will be considered invalid on and after April 1, 2011.  The Alliance is in the process of organizing an educational program just to be sure everyone understands how to use this form.  Stay tuned to our website for details.

Equally important are the expedited appeals process and notices for “traditional” Medicare beneficiaries and for Medicare Advantage.  Masspro will be holding 4 regional meetings in January, 2011 on the matter and registration materials will be available soon.

According to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), HHABNs apply to all services provided by a home health agency, whether potentially included in the home health or other Medicare benefits or outside of the Medicare benefit. The notices must be issued whenever Medicare or the beneficiary is the payer and services and/or Medicare coverage are reduced or discontinued, with certain exceptions. The notice requirements have limited application in cases where other third parties pay for services provided by home health agencies.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Advocacy Alert: Congress Circulating Letter on Physician Face-to-Face Rule

December 10, 2010

Congressman Jim McGovern, along with Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas, have circulated a sign-on letter to their colleagues in the US House of Representatives that urges CMS Administrator Donald Berwick to delay implantation of the physician face-to-face encounter rule.

Please contact your Congressperson and urge them to sign this letter and note that the deadline for signatures is Wednesday, December 15. The “dear colleague” letter and letter to Administrator Berwick is available below.

~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Colleague,

As you may be aware, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued a Final Rule setting out various regulatory changes for the Medicare home health benefit.  One rule within the recent regulatory changes issued by CMS is intended to maintain benefit integrity by ensuring strong physician involvement in care planning and authorization. That rule implements a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires face-to-face encounters between home health care patients and their physicians or certain non-physician practitioners. While this rule serves an important purpose, we are very concerned that neither the physician community nor the Medicare beneficiaries will be prepared for this change in time for meeting all the requirements by January 1, 2011.

We are asking members to cosign the following letter to CMS requesting a delay in implementation of the face-to-face requirement so that beneficiaries and providers have additional time to prepare for implementation of this new requirement.  If you would like to cosign, please e-mail Kate Callanan at kate.callanan@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Mike Ross                                               James McGovern
Member of Congress                             Member of Congress

~~~~~~~~~~

Donald Berwick, MD
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20201

Re; Medicare Home Health Services
Physician Face-to-Face Encounter Requirements

Dear Dr. Berwick:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued a Final Rule setting out various regulatory changes for the Medicare home health benefit. As you are very aware, home health services is one of the most important benefits in the Medicare program as it is a very viable solution for Medicare’s increasing costs, allowing people to recover at home and thereby reducing spending for higher cost care such as hospitalizations and institutional care. At the same time, we are cognizant of the need to manage that crucial benefit with high integrity.

One rule within the recent regulatory changes issued by CMS is intended to maintain benefit integrity by ensuring strong physician involvement in care planning and authorization. That rule implements a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires face-to-face encounters between home health care patients and their physicians or certain non-physician practitioners. While this rule serves an important purpose, we are very concerned that neither the physician community nor the Medicare beneficiaries will be prepared for this change in time for meeting all the requirements by January 1, 2011.

We understand that CMS has not initiated any educational efforts yet directed to physicians and Medicare beneficiaries on this new rule. The rule is not simple. It is complicated for both doctors and their patients to fully understand. The consequence of a patient’s noncompliance with the rule is severe as Medicare benefits will be denied. However, even if CMS begins to educate everyone affected by this rule immediately, we strongly suspect that the message will not get through in time.

We urge you to establish a plan of action to transition this new requirement into operation rather than fully enforce it on January 1. That transition should include a well planned and executed education campaign, the issuance of comprehensive guidelines to address existing ambiguities in the rule, and a trial period where compliance with the rule is monitored and appropriate adjustments made before denying Medicare benefits to a patient who does not have the qualifying encounter. Further, we request that you schedule a meeting with us and representatives from the physician, beneficiary, and home health agency community to plan that transition.

Given the short time before this rule becomes effective, we respectfully request your immediate attention to this matter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Alliance Members Thrive With Accreditation

December 9, 2010

From the Halifax Plympton Reporter:

In addition to the economic situation, [Comfort Keepers of South Shore, Cape Cod & Metrowest co-owner Robert] Mullaney credits the company’s growth in part to their recent accreditation by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts. Accreditation for in-home pay care is new to Massachusetts, and Comfort Keepers was among the first pay-for-care organizations to be accredited.

“Accreditation allows Comfort Keepers to be a preferred provider with government agencies. We were just approved by Massachusetts Brain Injury to be a preferred provider as well,” Raquel Mullaney said.

The Alliance launched its Agency Accreditation Program in July 2010 and accredited 34 of its agencies as of December 9, 2010.   To become accredited, agencies must demonstrate compliance with and/or documentation of 14 points regarding hiring, background checks, training, complaint/abuse reporting, and proof of various insurances.  The program is the only of its kind in Massachusetts and is open to all home care agencies in the state.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


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