Home Health Final Payment Rule, Vaccine Mandates and New Initiatives Launched
To keep you informed on news, innovation, education and advocacy issues around home-based care, we’ve pulled together these important headlines.
The World Health Organization identified Omicron as a new COVID-19 variant of concern. The variant was originally detected in South Africa and has spread to several other countries. It is unclear whether Omicron is as contagious or severe as the Delta variant, but if it is, then agencies can expect another spike in staff quarantines and increased numbers of patients with COVID-19. Industry advocates are urging government members in the Senate to pass the Build Back Better act to help bring in further resources for treating patients in their homes. Read the rest of the article here.
CMS and OSHA have issued a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for eligible staff at health care organizations that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Companies with 100 employees or more must ensure their care providers have at least the first dose by December 5th and have completed vaccination by January 4, 2022. Exemptions can be allowed based on religious or medical conditions. Read the full article here.
10 states have filed a lawsuit against the President and administrative officials over the CMS vaccine mandate. The complaint centers on the damage the mandate is likely to cause for care providers, especially in rural areas, that are already alarmingly short on workers. The states involved are Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Hampshire. Read the rest of the article here.
MA & Value-based Care
Humana is making efforts to move 50% of its Medicare Advantage members into a value-based care model by 2027 in order to reduce the total cost of care for health plans. In Florida and Texas Humana’s value-based home health model has led to a 100 basis point improvement than the national average. Read the rest of the article here.
The (VBID) demonstration has opened up the opportunity for value-based hospice care in 2021, but some of the intended benefits are not panning out for providers including contracting with existing providers for palliative care and addressing the social determinants of health. Adjustments to the demonstration and measurements for tracking social determinants of health and outcomes will affect the future of the program. Read the full article here.
Build Back Better
The Build Back Better plan has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting a Senate vote. The $1.9 trillion bill sets money aside for wage increases for in-home care professionals, affordable housing, tax credits for the uninsured, direct care workforce competitive grants and hospice and palliative nursing programs. Read the rest of the article here.
Department of Labor Initiatives
The U.S Department of Labor is focusing on ensuring that home-based, paid caregivers receive rightful wages and legal protections. The new DOL initiatives include education, outreach and enforcement components to trigger changes for the workforce. The goal is to make sure that caregivers understand their rights to minimum wages and overtime pay, as well as their options for filing official complaints. The Department of Labor will also be checking for misclassifications of caregivers as independent contractors. Read the full article here.
THIS MONTH IN HOME HEALTH
CMS announced the 2022 home health final payment rule which included the expansion of the HHVBP nationwide and a 3.2% increase to the home health Medicare rate. The rule also locks in home health aid supervisions and telecommunication waivers. PDGM recalibration were included to tweak case-mix weights, functional levels and comorbidity adjustment subgroups and CoP updates. Read the full article here.
The 2022 home health final payment rule confirmed that HHVBP will go nationwide, but the roll out date has been pushed back to January 1, 2023. This is welcome news for most home health agencies who did not have the opportunity to participate in the demonstration that started in 2016. Agencies will now have a year to test, prepare and train before the official rollout of the program. Read the rest of the article here.
THIS MONTH IN HOSPICE
CMS has decided to create a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) to examine the Special Focus Program that was included in the 2022 home health proposed rule. The goal of the TEP will be ensure the program is designed effectively for hospices before including the program in a future CMS rule. The 2022 home health final rule did include redesigned elements of the hospice regulatory survey process that include updates to the surveyor training process. A hospice complaint hotline for the public will also be created. Read the full article here.
Vice President for hospice policy and programs at NAHC, Theresa Forester discussed hospice survey changes with Hospice News. The 2022 final home health rule released at the end of October included 9 changes to the hospice survey and enforcement provisions. Survey inconsistency is the main cause for concern currently for providers. Read the rest of the article here.
The 2022 final rule highlighted 10 quality indicators that were chosen to be included in the Hospice Care Index (HCI). This collection of measures will be collected under the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP). Agencies can expect more measures to be added as CMS digs deeper into quality care for hospice. Read the full article here.
Hospice News took a deeper dive into the strategy refresh released by The Center of Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). The diversity and equity piece of the strategy stands out as a significant gamechanger for hospice and palliative care. Gathering the correct data will be key to establishing effective strategies to tackle this challenge. Read the rest of the article here.
Jon Higginbotham, VP of Business Development for Homecare Homebase and Amanda Overmyer, CEO of Overmyer Healthcare Consulting discussed the future of business development for hospice agencies at the Hospice News ELEVATE conference. The topics spanned from technology utilization to the need for in depth physician and patient education. Read the rest of the article here.
CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWS
GrandCare Health Services
CEO of GrandCare Health Services, David A. Bell was interviewed for the Home Health Care News’ monthly podcast. In this disrupt episode, Bell discusses how he is strengthening GrandCare’s position in the industry by focusing on its orthopedic specialty care rather than remaining a generalist. Read the full article here.
Seasons Healthcare Management
Nicole McCann-Davis, associate vice president of health equity and access for Seasons Healthcare Management shared insights on how agencies can improve their health equity efforts. She encourages bringing in consultants to host objective conversations and improve training and education efforts to better understand the cultural values and roles of family members in minority groups. Read the full article here.
Jet Health has gathered smaller home health and hospice companies together to leverage back-office functions and bets practices. This approach is designed to eliminate gaps in care through co-location. in 2021, Jet Health has added three acquisitions and several de novo locations. Read the rest of the article here.
Kara Craig has been appointed to the position of vice president of personal care. The new position will give Craig oversight across all personal care programs and allow the company to focus on increasing brand awareness and expanding Jet’s caregiver network for the new service line. Read the full article here.
Paul Kusserow, CEO of Amedisys is bullish about the company’s ability to consolidate home-based care and deliver on its planned M&A strategy. The organization is also pleased with the results they have received from the purchase of Contessa earlier in 2021. Admissions for Contessa are 8% over the forecast amount with several additional partnerships in the pipeline. Read the full article here.
Kacy Kang has been appointed as the new president of hospice at Amedisys and will execute the company’s expanded growth strategy for hospice. His previous role was chief operations officer for Meridian Senior Living. He will remain on the board of Griffin-American Healthcare REIT I, Inc and serve as a senior advisor to Meridian. Read the rest of the article here.
Bayada Home Health Care
Bayada Home Health announced a joint venture partnership with Jefferson Health, a hospital system serving patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The partnership will allow the companies to grow their post-acute services and includes an academic affiliation which will help educate nursing students about hospice opportunities. Read the rest of the article here.
Eden Health is expanding by obtaining a Medicare certification and ACHC accreditation for hospice and palliative care in Idaho Falls. The accreditation holds the hospice program to a high quality standard. The hospice program includes additional elements for families including advanced care planning, assistance accessing community resources and disease process education. Read the rest of the article here.
Grace Home Health
Grace Home Health has been acquired by Excelin Health. This deal expands Excelin’s service area into the state of Louisiana. Further plans of expansion in the state are expected by company leaders. Read the full article here.
The LHC Group
The LHC Group ran into temporary challenges in quarter three because of COVID and Hurricane Ida, but company leaders remain optimistic about the upcoming year. LHC Group hired more than 5,000 employees in the third quarter of 2021. Read the rest of the article here.
Keith Myers, CEO for the LHC Group discussed the 2022 growth plans for the company including continued, though slowed, M&A deals and a focus on joint ventures with hospitals. Read the full article here.
Carla Davis, president of LHC Group’s Heart of Hospice Division was interviewed by Hospice News as part of the 2021 Changemakers Series. She discussed how the industry has changed and how hospice providers will need to adapt in the future, especially the need to move services upstream. Davis addressed the need for Hospice 2.0, a new version of the benefit that provides equal access as easily as possible. Read the rest of the article here.
Christopher R. Reidy has been appointed to the Encompass Health Corporation board of directors. He is currently the CRO and Chief Administrative Officer of Becton, Dickinson and Company. Read the rest of the article here.
Choice Health at Home
Choice Health at Home provides home health, hospice and rehabilitation services across dozens of locations in the Southwest. The company has been quickly making new deals to expand its network including a deal with PE company, Coltala Holdings and Trive Capital. The company’s identity as a clinician-led organization is key to the growth it has achieved. Read the full article here.
Aveanna Healthcare Holdings
Aveanna Healthcare Holdings is increasing its efforts towards retention and recruitment to ensure the company is able to make the most of its rapid expansion in the home health and hospice market. Aveanna has seen a 900% increase in home health and hospice revenue compared to last year and has already surpassed typical revenue targets for 2021. Read the rest of the article here.