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American Jobs Plan, Proposed Rule and HOPE Tool. What’s Next for Hospice Agencies?

Published: 05/03/2021
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To keep you informed on news, innovation, education and advocacy issues around home-based care, we’ve pulled together these important headlines.

CMS & CMMI

Senate confirmation delays for CMS administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure have been keeping some CMS decisions in a holding pattern. Liz Richter is temporarily filling in as Acting Administrator, but the current setup is slowing down decisions. Read the rest of the article here.

CMMI has decided to pause the Global and Professional Direct Contracting Model in addition to the hold on the Serious Illness Population Model. In the meantime, the 53 organizations that were already admitted into the program will be able to proceed as normal. Additional applicants will have to wait until the model opens up again. Read the full article here.

In order to address growing concerns over CMMI’s commitment to value-based care, Director Liz Fowler spoke to clarify the government’s position. She gave no specifics on the future of the programs on hold, but affirmed CMMI’s stance on expanding value-based care. Read the rest of the articles here and here.

This month, 56 health systems and 127 hospitals across 29 states have been accepted as participants of the CMS hospital-at-home initiative. Experts say that the concept had some benefits, but there are a lot of details that must be worked out to make it a truly viable model. Read the full article here.

Staffing

The American Rescue Plan may finally give the industry the push to be able to address some of the staffing challenges that are plaguing the industry. The act allows for a 10% FMAP increase in Medicaid funding for HCBS. Read the rest of the article here.

PACE Plus Act

Senator Bob Casey introduced the PACE Plus Act bill to congress to expand access to the PACE program across the country. If passed, the PACE Plus Act will add the ability to expand current PACE programs and create new ones with grants. Read the rest of the article here.

Medicare Sequestration

The long-awaited extension on the moratorium for Medicare sequestration has passed the House of Representatives and been signed by President Biden. The moratorium has been extended to December 31, 2021. Read the full articles here and here.

THIS MONTH IN HOSPICE

Audits

In recent months, Hospice agency audits on claims filed through Medicaid have been increasing. These audits typically include provider intake questionnaires. Solid documentation policies are vital to minimize the risk associated with audits. Read the rest of the article here.

Primary Care First

The Serious Illness Population and direct contracting components are currently on hold, but CMS is moving forward with the Primary Care First program and is currently accepting applications for Cohort 2. The second cohort will begin in January 2021. Find out more about the requirements for participation by reading the full article here.

Palliative Care Accreditation

The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) is offering a palliative care accreditation program that is accessible by community-based providers. Achieving accreditation enables palliative care programs to certify they are providing safe, quality care backed by national standards.” Read the rest of the article here.

Medicare Billing Challenges

The Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in launched on January 1. Participating hospice providers are able to reach more patients but adjusting to the new payment system during the pandemic has been tricky. Read the full article here.

HOPE Quality Tool

CMS’ Hospice Outcomes & Patient Evaluation (HOPE) tool now in pilot testing. The tool is intended to replace the HIS quality reporting system. The tool will provide data for the Hospice Quality Reporting Program and provide clinical data that may inform potential future changes to Medicare hospice payments. Read the rest of the article here.

Hospice Proposed Rule

The CMS Hospice proposed rule has been published with some welcome updates including a 2.3% rate increase for FY 2022. Additional items of note include adding hospice star ratings to Care Compare and a new measure for the Hospice Quality Reporting program called the Hospice Care Index. Read the rest of the article here.

NPHI & AHA Collaboration

NPHI and the American Heart Association have developed a Comprehensive Cardiac Care Guide to spur education about palliative and hospice care needs for cardiac patients. The aim is to help the public understand their options, reduce hospitalization and encourage referrals from cardiologists. Read the full article here.

HOSPICE CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWS

Agape Care

Agape Care Group is expanding their leadership with a new role. Carry vandenMaagdenberg will become the first chief technology and innovation officer for the organization. She joins the team shortly after Matt Winer who will assume the role of chief operations officer. Read the rest of the article here.

Agape Care Group’s focus on pursuing diversity equity and inclusion were also noted in a recent Hospice News article. Read the rest of the article here.

Hosparus Health

One of Hosparus Health’s subsidiaries is making waves with a new Palliative Lung Care Program designed to lower hospitalization rates for patients with chronic lung diagnosis’ like COPD. The new program is modeled after a cardiac-focused program that has had great results for Hosparus Health. Read the full article here.

Brookdale Senior Living

HCA Healthcare is in the midst of purchasing an 80% stake in Brookdale Senior Living’s Home Health and Hospice segment for $400 million. The deal is expected to close at the end of the year and is considered a win-win for the organizations involved. Read the rest of the article here.

Traditions Health, LLC

David Klementz is transitioning from Chief Strategy Officer at Encompass Health to the President and CEO of Traditions Health, LLC. Bryan Wolfe, the co-founder of Traditions Health will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors. Read the full article here.

Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care

Yelena Zatulovsky, vice president of patient experience for Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care discussed some of the bereavement care changes the organization has made in response to COVID-19. The agency has been offering 32 bereavement groups and psycho-educational reform workshops covering the entire nation, thanks to the widespread adoption of telehealth last year. Read the full article here.

Moments Hospice

Moments Hospice grew rapidly in the Midwest during 2020, opening eight de novo locations. They are planning to continue growing by opening a further seven to nine new locations in Iowa and Minnesota over the next two years. Read the rest of the article here.

Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice

Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice announced a merger with Concord Regional Visiting Nurse Association. The new organization will operate under the name Granite VNA. Read the full article here.

St. Croix Hospice

St. Croix Hospice announced the acquisition of Hospice Care of America in Rockford Illinois. This is the latest in a string of acquisitions and de novo location openings that have taken place over the past year. Read the rest of the article here.

RESOURCE ARTICLES

Confirmation Delay for Next CMS Administrator Could Cause Problems for Home-Based Care Providers” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on April 212021

Pause to Alternative Payment Models Gives Some Providers a Golden Ticket,’ Leaves Others Behind” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on April 202021

CMMI Chief Fowler: Value-Based Care at a Crossroads” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 202021

New CMMI Director Liz Fowler: US at Really Critical Juncture’ on Path to Value-Based Care” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on April 202021

CMS Hospital-at-Home Program Closing In On 200 Participants” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on April 192021

The Conversation Is Way Overdue’: Why the Home Care Staffing System Is Broken” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on April 182021

In Speech to Congress, President Biden Again Shines Spotlight on Home-Based Care” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on April 292021

InnovAge, National PACE Association Applaud PACE Plus Act’” by Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on April 182021

Congress Prolongs Medicare Sequestration Moratorium for Hospices, Other Providers” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 142021

Biden, Congress Extend Medicare Sequestration Holiday Through 2021” by Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on April 142021

“‘There Are Still Many Questions Unanswered’: Home Care Providers Seek Clarity on American Rescue Plan” by Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on April 72021

Hospice Providers Seeing an Uptick in Regulatory Audits” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 232021

ACHC Launches Palliative Care Accreditation Program” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 192021

Opportunities Abound for Hospices in Primary Care First” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 212021

Hospices See Rising Volume, Billing Challenges in Medicare Advantage” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 132021

Hospices Preparing for HOPE Quality Tool Coming from CMS” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 62021

Pallitus Health Partners Launches Pulmonary Palliative Care Service” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 232021

NPHI, AHA Collaborate to Bring Hospice to Cardiac Patients” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 212021

Skyrocketing Home Health Demand, Better Care Coordination Drove HCA Healthcare to Brookdale” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on April 222021

Opportunities Abound for Hospices in Primary Care First” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 212021

Klementz Takes Helm of Traditions Health as New CEO” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 202021

Agape Care Group Names vandenMaagdenberg as Chief Tech Officer” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 262021

Pandemic Reshaping Hospice Bereavement Care” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on April 122021

Moments Hospice Undergoing Multi-state Expansion” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 212021

[UPDATED] CMS Proposes 2.3% Pay Raise for Hospices, Updates Conditions of Participation” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 92021

Two New Hampshire Providers Merge, Rebrand as Granite VNA” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 52021

St. Croix Enters Illinois Market with Hospice Care of America Purchase” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on April 12021