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.

 


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.


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.”
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116 US Reps Sign on to Prior Authorization Letter to CMS

May 31, 2016

Even though the public comment period for CMS’ proposed prior authorization demonstration ended on April 5th, the Home Care Alliance has been active in its continuing advocacy to oppose the measure.

Joining national associations and advocates from across the country, the HCA helped spearhead a congressional letter to CMS opposing prior authorization, which gained 116 signatures and was co-led by Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern. All but one member of the state’s congressional House delegation signed on. The Alliance thanks Congressmen Stephen Lynch, Joseph Kennedy, Bill Keating, Richard Neal, Seth Moulton and Congresswomen Niki Tsongas and Katherine Clark for their support.

The proposed five-state pilot includes Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Michigan and those five states have been lobbying members of Congress, but many others nationwide have joined in the fight realizing that a demonstration could, and likely would, lead to wider implementation.

In late February, the Home Care Alliance began its advocacy of the proposal by traveling to Washington DC to deliver a letter outlining the organization’s comments to members of Congress. The HCA and all others who gathered in opposition to the prior authorization demonstration await a response from CMS.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


Prior Authorization Demo Proposed by CMS

February 8, 2016

Piling on top of existing pilots and demonstrations, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released another proposed program that would establish Medicare prior authorizations and a fraud measurement pilot.

Massachusetts is one of five states – along with Florida, Texas, Illinois and Michigan – selected for the prior authorization demonstration. There are no details on what the authorizations would entail in the proposed demonstration aside from CMS stating that it would be similar to “Prior Authorization of Power Mobility Device (PMD) Demonstration, which was implemented by CMS in 2012.” The rule continues that “this demonstration would also follow and adopt prior authorization processes that currently exist in other health care programs such as TRICARE, certain state Medicaid programs, and in private insurance.”

CMS’ reasoning for implementing such a program a belief that it will help assist in “developing improved procedures for the identification, investigation, and prosecution of Medicare fraud occurring among HHAs providing services to Medicare beneficiaries.”

According to CMS, Medicare contractors will request the information from home health agency providers submitting claims for payment from the Medicare program in advance to determine appropriate payment.

The second piece of the CMS’ proposal is titled the “Medicare Probable Fraud Measurement Pilot.” The pilot would establish a baseline estimate of probable fraud in Medicare fee-for-service payments for home health care.

CMS purports that this would be accomplished using, at least in part, a summary of the service history of the HHA, the referring provider, and the beneficiary to estimate the percentage of total payments that are associated with probable fraud and the percentage of all claims that are associated with probable fraud for Medicare fee-for-service home health.

HCA is currently working to get more details on this demonstration so as to devise an advocacy strategy.

Comments on the proposed demonstration are due by April 5th and details are available here on the Federal Register.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.


CMS Releases Final Home Health Rule, Adds Discharge Planning Proposal

October 30, 2015

CMS published the Final Rule for Medicare Home Health PPS and VBP for CY 2016 to its website yesterday.  The official notice will be published in the Federal Register on November 5.

CMS also announced a “Discharge Planning Proposed Rule,” that is estimated to cost home health agencies nationwide about $283 million. The proposal, which the Home Care Alliance will fully analyze, will revise discharge planning processes for hospitals, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and critical access hospitals in addition to home health.

In terms of changes made to the Home Health Final Rule, CMS pulled back slightly regarding both payment and in the Value Based Purchasing Program. Below is an analysis from HCA staff:

Value Based Purchasing:

The final rule makes minor changes to the VBP system from the proposed rule.  The same nine states (including MA) are selected, with all agencies in the state included in the VBP system.  VBP will begin January 1, 2016, with a 2015 baseline year on performance, with all agencies within each selected state competing against each other for payment adjustments tied to quality performance measures.

CMS made a small concession to industry concerns that the proposed risk corridor was too broad, and reduced the maximum payment reduction in the first year of the VBP from the proposed 5 percent to 3 percent. The payment adjustments will be increased incrementally over the course of the model with: 

  • a maximum payment adjustment of  3-percent (upward or downward) in 2018,
  • a maximum payment adjustment of 5-percent (upward or downward) in 2019,
  • a maximum payment adjustment of 6-percent (upward or downward) in 2020,
  • a maximum payment adjustment of 7-percent (upward or downward) in2021, and
  • a maximum payment adjustment of 8-percent (upward or downward) in 2022.

CMS dropped 4 process measures and 1 of the new reporting measures. The final set of 24 measures includes 10 outcome measures, 6 process measures, 5 HHCAHPS, and 3 New Measures.

Outcome Measures

  • Improvement in Pain Interfering with Activity-M1242
  • Improvement in Dyspnea- M1400
  • Improvement in Bathing-M1830
  • Improvement in Bed Transferring-M1850
  • Improvement in Ambulation-Locomotion M1860
  • Prior Functioning ADL/IADL-M1900
  • Improvement in Management of Oral Medications-M2020
  • Discharged to Community-M2420
  • Acute Care Hospitalization: Unplanned Hospitalization during first 60 days of Home Health- (Claims)
  • Emergency Department Use without Hospitalization- (Claims)

Process Measures

  • Influenza Vaccine Data Collection Period: Does this episode of care include any dates on or between October 1 and March 31?-M1041
  • Influenza Immunization Received for Current Flu Season-M1046
  • Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine Ever Received-M1051
  • Reason Pneumococcal vaccine not received-M1056
  • Drug Education on All Medications Provided to Patient/Caregiver during all Episodes of Care-M2015
  • Care Management: Types and Sources of Assistance-M2102

Home Health CAHPS: Satisfaction Survey Measures

  • Care of Patients
  • Communications between Providers and Patients
  • Specific Care Issues
  • Overall rating of home health care
  • Willingness to recommend the agency

New Measures

  • Influenza Vaccination Coverage for Home Health Care Personnel
  • Herpes zoster (Shingles) vaccination: Has the patient ever received the shingles vaccination?
  • Advance Care Plan

CMS has modified the reporting of the New Measures; HHAs will be required to begin reporting data (through a web portal) no later than October 7, 2016, for the period July, 2016, through September, 2016, and quarterly thereafter. As a result, the first quarterly performance report in July, 2016, will not account for any of the New Measures.

CY2016 PPS Rates

Case Mix Weights:  CMS made additional minor changes to the case mix weights based on additional analysis.

Case Mix Adjustment:  In a slight concession to industry comments, CMS is phasing in their proposed 2.88% case mix adjustment over three years instead of the two years they initially proposed.  So the final rule decreases the national, standardized 60-day episode payment amount by 0.97% each year in CY 2016, CY 2017, and CY 2018, instead of 1.44% for just 2016 and 2017. 

Market Basket Update:  The final CY 2016 home health market basket (2.3 percent) combined with the multifactor productivity adjustment (0.4 percentage points) results in a 1.9 percent home health payment update percentage.

Wage Index:  CMS made additional small adjustments to the Wage Index because they used an updated database of hospital wage data.  The final wage index is slightly lower than the proposed index for every geographic region in MA except Berkshire County.

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