Home Health & Hospice Weekly News Roundup

Our weekly list of news, reports, and information about home health and hospice care. Learn about new studies, trends, CMS regulations and more.

Billing, Coding and Intake: Top PDGM Priorities for the Rest of 2019

In July, Home Health Care News heard from five home health providers — big and small — for a check-in on industry progress preparing for the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). Now it’s time for the consultants and other industry leaders to weigh in as well. With less than five full months before PDGM is set to begin, providers should be fine-tuning operations at this point, expert say, singling out billing, coding and intake processes in particular. But while the time for basics has come and gone, it seems some providers are still playing catch up. HHCN’s conversations with Home Health Solutions LLC, LeadingAge, Axxess and Maxwell Healthcare Associates are below, edited for length and clarity.

NAHC’s Dombi: CMS Putting Home Health Providers Under the Gun

Home health providers are under more pressure today than arguably ever before. The immediate battle remains the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), which could pose an 8.01% cut to providers if its assumption-based behavior adjustments aren’t addressed through Congressional action. But there are plenty of smaller skirmishes taking place in the background as well, according to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) President William A. Dombi. They include the proposal by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to phase out Requests for Anticipated Payments (RAPs) in 2020, ongoing minimum wage hikes and antiquated physician-certification requirements — just to name a few.

Admissions Spur 18% Jump in Brookdale’s Hospice Revenue

Hospice revenues at Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) are up nearly 18% in the second quarter largely due to same-store admissions growth and de novo activity, the company reported in an earnings conference call. Hospice accounted for much of growth in the company’s Health Care Services segment, outstripping quarterly percentage gains for its home health and outpatient therapy service lines. “Hospice is the engine that’s driving growth in Brookdale’s ancillary business. The company expects to continue to expand its reach and improve margins over time,” Chad Vanacore, analyst for Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF), told Hospice News. “[Hospice] is an attractive business that’s growing. It has support from government administrators and a clear long-term tailwind from aging population.”

LHC Group CEO Casts Doubt on CMS’s Ability to Manage PDGM

Home health providers may not be the only ones positioned for a rough January 2020. LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) Chairman and CEO Keith Myers cast a small degree of doubt on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and its ability to manage the implementation of the upcoming Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). “There were comments made by the CMS team in Baltimore that they weren’t confident they were prepared to manage the implementation of PDGM,” Myers said during the company’s Q2 earnings call Thursday. “Granted, this was in July when they said this. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be ready by January.”