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.

CMS Gives Telehealth a Nudge with Coverage for Virtual Check-Ins

Last week’s release of The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ 2019 Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program offered good news for providers looking to implement telemedicine for virtual check-ins. While much of the attention was focused on expanded reimbursement for remote patient monitoring services, an overlooked section of the 2,378-page document detailed Medicare coverage for “Brief Communication Technology-Based Service” (HCPCS code G2012). Simply put, this new code gives providers an opportunity to use telehealth to check in with their patients at certain times on care management issues.

Amedisys CEO: Coming Payment Rule Won’t Be ‘Game Over’ in PDGM Battle

Bolstered by healthy growth across all three of its business lines, Amedisys, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) achieved strong financial results in the third quarter of 2018. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based home health, hospice and personal care company expects that momentum to continue, even as it faces regulatory headwinds coming from the potential new payment overhaul known as the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). Amedisys President and CEO Paul Kusserow discussed his company’s third-quarter financials, its industry-shaping deal for Compassionate Care Hospice, PDGM, innovative new payment arrangements with insurers and other topics during a Tuesday conference call with investors. “I want to stress that this year’s proposal provides ample time to transition to the new payment model in 2020 if the model remains unchanged,” Kusserow said. “We do have concerns, however, about the use, scope and impact of behavioral assumptions in the transition to the new payment model.”

Home Health Providers Shift to Mobile Tech, ‘Upskilling’ Tools for Staffing Success

Home health aides are more apt to apply for open positions using a smartphone instead of browser-based resources, such as Monster or Indeed, that many agencies typically use for recruiting. Similarly, aides are more likely to stay at a home health agency when that agency invests in technology-based solutions focused on “upskilling.” Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm Village Capital highlighted these and other tech trends in a recent report following up on its investment-readiness program with Kaiser Permanente. With offices across the globe, Village Capital finds, trains and invests in early-stage ventures solving major global problems in agriculture, education, energy, finance and health.

Telehealth from Home to be Added to Medicare Advantage Plan's Benefits under New Rule

Proposed changes issued today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would allow Medicare Advantage insurers to be reimbursed for additional telehealth services, a benefit not available through traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Under the proposed rule, Medicare Advantage enrollees can receive telehealth services from their homes, rather than from a healthcare facility. MA plans have always been able to offer more telehealth services than are currently payable under original Medicare through supplemental benefits. The Medicare fee-for-service program telehealth benefit is narrowly defined and includes restrictions on where beneficiaries receiving care via telehealth can be located. Under the proposed rule, MA plans would have greater flexibility to offer clinically-appropriate telehealth benefits that are not otherwise available to Medicare beneficiaries, CMS said.