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.

Congress to Tackle Hospice Quality in New Legislation

Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) have introduced bipartisan legislation designed to strengthen regulatory oversight of hospice providers in the wake of two July 2019 reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG). The reports garnered widespread media attention and elicited strong reactions from hospice organizations. In addition to bringing attention to safety incidents in hospices, the reports called into question the effectiveness of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) enforcement strategies. The new bill — the Helping Our Senior Population in Comfort Environments (HOSPICE) Act — is expected to address some of OIG’s recommendations for stronger enforcement.

Encompass Health’s 2020 M&A Strategy Leans Towards Hospice

Encompass Health (NYSE: EHC) will be targeting large acquisitions in the home health and hospice space during 2020 with an emphasis on hospice, due to disruption in the home health sector resulting from the Patient Driving Groupings Model (PDGM). Effective Jan. 1, 2020 Medicare began reimbursing home health care providers through PDGM, which classifies patients into payment categories based on clinical characteristics and other patient information and shifts the home health payment model to a 30-day payment period rather than the current 60-day episode. Despite record-high multiples in the hospice sector, Encompass will be in the market for new opportunities, particularly for companies that are backed by private equity firms.

PDGM, Medicare Advantage are Top Technology Drivers for In-Home Care Providers

For many in-home care providers, new payment models such as the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) serve as the impetus for technology adoption in 2020. The expanding reimbursement stream of Medicare Advantage is also a major driver. These are some of the key findings from the 2020 Home Health Care News Outlook Survey and Report, released Thursday, in collaboration with Homecare Homebase. The survey — conducted from December 2019 through January 2020 — reflects the opinions of more than 500 professionals working in or alongside the in-home care industry. When it comes to the adoption of new technology, 27% of survey respondents cited PDGM as the most important driver. Meanwhile, 21% of survey respondents cited Medicare Advantage as the most important driver.

Hospice Primed for Growth in the Assisted Living Setting

Hospices expect to see substantial growth in the assisted living setting during 2020, followed by the skilled nursing setting. Hospice News in collaboration with Dallas-based tech company Homecare Homebase surveyed more than 300 industry professionals, including owners, executive leaders, managers and staff about the movement they expect to see in the hospice space during 2020. About 36% responded that the assisted living setting would be their most significant avenue for expansion, followed by nursing or skilled nursing facilities at 33%. Hospitals and memory care facilities yielded the lowest percentages at 9% and 5%, respectively.