Talking Home Care Episode 4: NAHC’s Bill Dombi on HHGM and Federal Home Health Policy

September 24, 2017
Bill Dombi

Bill Dombi, Interim President of NAHC

For the fourth episode of the Talking Home Care podcast, Pat Kelleher talks with Bill Dombi, interim president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). Topics include:

  • Background on the the Home Health Grouper Model (HHGM) and an update on its status;
  • Discussion of the $950M/year reduction in overall home health spending, as estimated by CMS (and estimated to be much, much higher by NAHC);
  • An update on NAHC’s lobbying efforts, specifically its support of a letter sponsored by Senators Nelson and Rubio to oppose the new model;
  • How we need agencies to contact their representatives immediately (by the end of the Monday, September 25);
  • How cuts may affect the home health workforce; and
  • Holding the Trump Administration to its promise to reduce paperwork administrative overhead.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking the play button above, downloading it directly, or subscribing through iTunes or Google Play. (Length: 29’00”; Size: 14 MB).

Links/Action:

Talking Home Care LogoHost: Patricia Kelleher is the Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

Guest: William Dombi was appointed as NAHC’s interim president this past August, and served as its vice president for law since 1987. He is also director of the Center for Health Care Law, a nonprofit, public interest law firm established by NAHC, and executive director of the Home Care and Hospice Financial Managers Association. Additionally, he is a member of the advisory board of Bloomberg BNA’s Medicare Report.


Don’t want to miss the next episode of Talking Home Care? Subscribe through iTunes, Google Play, or enter the following in your podcast app: https://thinkhomecare.wordpress.com/category/talking-home-care-podcast/feed/

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


CMS to Delay Expansion of Pre-Claim Review Demo

September 20, 2016

CMS announced yesterday afternoon that they are delaying the expansion of the Pre-Claim Review Demonstration for Home Health Services which began in Illinois on August 3, 2016.

According a notice on CMS’s website, based on early information from the problems encountered in Illinois, CMS believes additional education efforts will be helpful before expansion of the demonstration to other states; therefore, they will not move forward with initiating the demonstration in Florida in October.  This education effort will focus on how to submit pre-claim review requests, documentation requirements, and common reasons for non-affirmation.

According to the notice, CMS views these efforts as crucial to the long-term success of the demonstration for beneficiaries, providers, and the Medicare program. CMS will therefore take additional time prior to expanding to other states.   The start dates for Florida, Texas, Michigan, and Massachusetts have not been announced; however, CMS will provide at least 30 days’ notice on this website prior to beginning in any state.  CMS continues to expect a staggered start, beginning with Florida.

The Alliance has been working closely with the state associations in the other demonstration states and national home health groups to advocate for major changes to the project.  Building off of this short-term victory, HCA will continue those efforts and is also briefing our Congressional delegation on the issue. HCA will, of course, keep members informed of any changes in the demonstration.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Home Care’s Part in the CMS Bundled Payment Program for Cardiac Care

August 15, 2016

Though no final announcements on participants have been made, several areas of Massachusetts were declared “eligible” by CMS for random selection of nearly 100 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) across the country for a new innovation initiative that offers bundled payment for cardiac care.

CMS released the proposed rule on July 25th where the hospital in which a patient is admitted for care for a heart attack, bypass surgery, or surgical hip/femur fracture treatment would be accountable for the cost and quality of care provided to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries during the inpatient stay and for 90 days after discharge.

As with many similar alternative payment programs, established quality metrics would help determine whether the hospital would be required to pay Medicare for poor performance or receive reward payments for higher-quality care. CMS chose July 2017 to March 2018 as the “performance year” and then a gradual increase in the gains and downside risk for hospitals beginning at 5 percent in 2018 and capped at 20 percent in 2020-2021.

CMS is encouraging collaboration with other providers, including home health care and other post-acute providers. Equally important are a list of waivers this program will grant relative to the provision of post-acute care. Some notable highlights are listed below, with explanatory excerpts from the proposed rule, but the full list of waivers can be found in the proposed rule under “Subpart G” on page 885.

  • Waiver of direct supervision requirement for certain post-discharge home visits:
    • “CMS waives the requirement in  § 410.26(b)(5) of this chapter that services and supplies furnished incident to a physician’s service must be furnished under the direct supervision of the physician (or other practitioner) to permit home visits as specified in this section.  The services furnished under this waiver are not considered to be “hospital services,” even when furnished by the clinical staff of the hospital.”
  • Waiver of certain telehealth requirements:
    • “Except for the geographic site requirements for a face – to – face encounter for home health certification, CMS waives the  geographic site requirements of sec tion 1834(m)(4)(C)(i)(I) through (III) of the Act for episodes  being tested in an EPM, but only for services that  (1)  May be furnished via telehealth under existing requirements; and (2)  Are included in the episode in accordance with  § 512.210”
    • The Alliance is researching whether this is restricted to physicians performing telehealth or whether home health agencies would be allowed to engage in remote patient monitoring.
  • Waiver of the SNF 3-day rule
    • Only applies to the AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction) model.

There is a 60-day public comment period and it is unlikely that the participating MSAs will be revealed before the final rule, but the “eligible” areas in Massachusetts are included below:

  • Barnstable Town, MA
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  • Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

Based on CMS’ selection criteria, the Pittsfield and Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Areas are “excluded” from selection eligibility.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


Moratorium on Home Health Agencies Extended by CMS, MassHealth

August 3, 2016

Both the state and federal governments are extending moratoria on new home health providers.

MassHealth will be extending the six-month moratorium on new home health providers, which will become effective on August 12 for an additional six months, according to MassHealth. The Home Care Alliance has been supportive of the measure and has collaborated with the state Medicaid office on program integrity efforts, but attempts to kick-start a state oversight policy for home care agencies have been unsuccessful.

In a letter requesting the initial stoppage on new providers from Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders to federal HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, it was noted that home health spending under MassHealth increased 41% from fiscal years 2014 to 2015. The letter continued to explain that 85% of that growth was driven by providers that were new to the MassHealth program since 2013.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they will be not only  extending their temporary moratoria on enrollment of specific locations within Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, but will also be broadening moratorium across each of those states.

Below is an excerpt from the Federal Register with CMS’ reasoning in announcing the extension and expansion:

CMS has determined that the factors initially evaluated to implement the temporary moratoria show that a high risk of fraud, waste, and abuse exists beyond the current moratoria areas, which may suggest that a high risk of fraud, waste, or abuse exists due largely to circumvention of the moratoria by some providers and suppliers.

The primary means of circumvention includes enrolling a new practice location outside of a moratorium area and servicing beneficiaries within the moratorium area. Additionally, CMS has continued to see areas of saturation that exceed the national average in the moratoria states. As a result, CMS, in consultation with the OIG, has determined that it is necessary to expand the temporary moratoria on a statewide basis, by implementing temporary moratoria on all newly enrolling HHAs in the remaining counties in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas, and on all newly enrolling Part B non-emergency ground ambulance suppliers in the remaining counties in Texas, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in order to combat fraud, waste, or abuse in those states.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


One Care Program Extended Through 2018

July 25, 2016

MassHealth announced that the One Care Program for individuals dually eligible for Medicare and MassHealth and between the ages of 21 and 64 has been extended through 2018.

Part of this new agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is that MassHealth will be accepting letters of intent (LOI) from entities interested in becoming One Care Plans effective January 1, 2018.

Beginning in 2013, the One Care program included several plans that were whittled down to what is now Commonwealth Care Alliance and Tufts Health Plan, which began participation in the initiative as Network Health. Funding issues were at the center of why other plans could not sustain covering One Care enrollees, although adjustments have been worked out that are intended to help plans better predict costs and assess financial risk. Fallon Total Care was the latest to drop their participation in June 2015.

Out of 103,041 eligible individuals, MassHealth reports that 13,038 are covered by the two One Care Plans. Commonwealth Care Alliance covers the bulk of that total with 10,050 enrollees as of June 1, 2016. According to the latest enrollment report, more than 30,000 individuals have “opted out” of the One Care Program.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


HCA Breaks Down MassHealth 1115 Waiver Proposal

June 29, 2016

Months of stakeholder meetings and public engagement by MassHealth has resulted in a long-awaited draft proposal that aims to completely restructure the state’s Medicaid program.

Known as the Section 1115 Waiver, the 90-plus page document outlines a possible multi-year agreement  with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The focus of the proposal is a move towards accountable care organizations (ACOs) and alternative payments while better addressing the needs of MassHealth members and putting in place a financially sustainable system of health care and support services.

Before the agreement can be made with CMS, however, there is a public comment period that runs until July 17th. The Home Care Alliance created a breakdown of the proposal so that members and advocates can better understand the key provisions.

MassHealth also provided a more basic fact sheet available on their 1115 Waiver Proposal webpage that also includes the full document and slide decks from previous public meetings.

The proposal attempts to seize an opportunity for new funding streams to support the creation of three types of ACOs that are required to partner with existing providers of behavioral health (BH) and long-term services and supports (LTSS). The state aims to rearrange provider and managed care relationships to set forth a better coordinated and integrated set of networks.

The first “pilot ACOs” are expected by MassHealth to come online later in 2016, while the full roll-out of the three ACO models, enhanced funding, and BH/LTSS integration will take place in October 2017.

The Alliance was appointed to several of the MassHealth stakeholder groups and plans to submit comments on the proposal on behalf of home care.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

 


National Fraud “Hot Spots” Revealed in Largest-Ever Operation Announced by US DOJ

June 24, 2016

The US Department of Justice announced that 301 individuals have been charged with falsely billing Medicare a total of approximately $900 million in what is being called the largest coordinated Medicare fraud take down in history.

Home health services were among a list of services involved in the fraud schemes that also included physical and occupational therapy, durable medical equipment (DME) and prescription drugs. In the process, the HHS Inspector General released a data brief titled “Nationwide Analysis of Common Characteristics in OIG Home Health Fraud Cases.”

That data brief reveal some trends in outlier patterns among home health agencies and affiliated physicians, but also identifies 27 “hot spots” in 12 states where home health care fraud is prevalent. Massachusetts is not among the states shown in the map below where much of the home health fraud activity is occurring.

Recently, Massachusetts has been included in a planned “pre-claim review” demonstration starting “no earlier” than January 2017 that will, according to CMS, test whether such a process improves methods for the identification, investigation, and prosecution of Medicare fraud occurring among Home Health Agencies. Among the five states involved in the demonstration, Massachusetts is the only one not on any target list for the Medicare Fraud Task force known as HEAT (Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team). For many years, the Home Care Alliance has repeatedly advocated for a temporary moratorium on new Medicare home health providers in response to recent growth in the number of new agencies, but such efforts have been denied by Medicare.

2016 HHA Fraud Hotspots

According the to HHS Inspector General, these are areas where characteristics commonly found in OIG-investigated cases of home health fraud were prevalent. The report states that “many of these hotspots are areas already recognized as having high rates of Medicare fraud, which suggests that home health fraud in these areas is an ongoing concern and that enforcement and program integrity efforts should continue.”
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

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