New CMS Administrator and Funding Signals Growth for Home Health Industry
To keep you informed on news, innovation, education and advocacy issues around home-based care, we’ve pulled together these important headlines.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as Administrator of CMS. She is the first black woman to lead CMS and she has stated that her focuses will include addressing health care equity, improving quality and reducing costs. “I am committed to leading the agency in a way that ensures it acts with the utmost integrity and upholds its fiduciary responsibilities.” Read the full article here.
Next year, CMS may update disclosure requirements for owners of care agencies. Providers may be asked to disclose a wide variety of affiliations and could be barred from participation in Medicare based on the affiliations. Read the rest of the article here.
The Biden Administration & HHS
The Biden Administration released $1.4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan for Older Americans Act programs. To review how the money will be distributed read the full article here.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offered clarification regarding the use of HCBS funds set aside as part of the American Rescue Plan. The increased FMAP funds can be used to “enhance, expand or strengthen HCHB beyond what is available through Medicaid.” It should be used to make programs better or expand reach, not fund entirely new programs. Home health, personal care, private-duty nursing and PACE programs are eligible to receive the boost in funds. Read the rest of the article here.
Agencies who requested loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are paying their loans back or filing loan-forgiveness applications. But loan forgiveness is not automatic. Learn about the loan forgiveness process and the measures the SBA are taking to lower the bandwidth issues the organization is dealing with currently. Read the full article here.
Home care turnover rates remained almost steady in 2020, rising by less than 1% to 65.2%. This is considered a huge win for the industry considering widespread challenges the industry faced during the pandemic. Read the rest of the article here.
A potential hike in the capital gains tax may push more agencies who were considering selling into the market. Regulatory changes, high evaluations after COVID and an eagerness to sell before increased taxes affect the bottom line are driving many owners to sell as quickly as possible. Read the full article here.
CONNECT for Health Act
A group of senators have reintroduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act. The bill expands Medicare coverage of telehealth and makes some of the flexibilities made available during the pandemic permanent. Read the rest of the article here.
Acute Cancer Care
New findings state that hospital-at-home cancer patients had 55% fewer hospitalizations and 45% fewer emergency department visits. This led to massive savings. Health care costs for these patients were 47% lower than that of patients receiving traditional cancer care. Read the full article here.
THIS MONTH IN HOME HEALTH
LUPA frequency increased in 2020 due to the launch of PDGM and COVID. As the effects of the pandemic begin to wane, agencies are still plagued with LUPA challenges. PDGM introduced 432 different LUPA thresholds that must be accounted for under a shortened period of 30 days (instead of 60). This complexity and the fact that you may not have the HIPPS code that generates the LUPA threshold into a third of the way into the period are key challenges that agencies are learning to overcome. Read the full article here.
A new study indicates that current Medicare policy is driving arbitrary non-clinical decision-making around when to discharge nursing home patients. Reducing SNF stays by more than a week showed no increase in hospitalizations, deaths or fall-related injuries. Reducing lengths of stay at SNFs could lead to opportunities for home health agencies, reduce health care costs and increase patient satisfaction. Read the rest of the article here.
CMS has extended the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) payment model through December of 2024. CJR allows CMS to hand out bonuses or inflict payment penalties to providers based on how well hip and knee replacement patients are cared for. The model has already reduced health care spending and employs home health care agencies to lower care costs. Read the full article here.
HOME HEALTH CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWS
In May, Home Health Care News selected a small number of home health companies to watch in 2021. The companies highlighted in this article were chosen because of notable structural changes, innovation and growth strategies that are expected to take place in 2021. HCHB’s customers included in this list include: Kindred at Home, AccentCare, Brookdale, Encompass Health, Lifesprk. Read the full article here.
A recent study confirmed that only 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients treated through hospital at home had to be admitted to a brick and mortar hospital within 2 weeks. Atrium Health is seeking to grow its hospital at home program until it becomes a widely accessible, affordable care option for patients. Read the rest of the article here.
Amedisys is tripling hospice and home health growth rates through rising patient census and acquisitions. CEO Paul Kusserow explains: “We doubled our hospice business organically; and then we found that we could proprietarily go out and find assets and pay decent prices for them.” Read the rest of the article here.
Amedisys is tackling staffing challenges with innovative strategies like leveraging predictive analytics. This journey started with a robust employee listening platform. After implementing the predictive analytics tool, Amedisys has reduced its turnover rate significantly. Read the full article here.
Lifesprk is expanding by adding senior living operations to its arsenal of services with the acquisition of Tealwood Senior Living. A new “Lifesprk Senior Living” brand will now oversee 35 senior living communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin in additional to a few SNFs. Read the rest of the article here.
Lifesprk is one of just a handful of home and community-based providers who received approval to participate in the direct contracting model before the program was put on pause. This means that they are in a unique position to leverage new partnerships. Read the full article here.
Home Health Care News spoke with Dr. Bill Thomas, independence officer for Lifesprk about the vision change that is coming to home-based care. Read the rest of the article here.
LHC Group Inc.
LHC Group Inc. is back on track with an increased ADC in Q1 of 2021 over last year’s numbers. The company carefully weighing expansion opportunities for its personal care segment and new payment opportunities through its “Choose Home” initiative. Read the full article here.
LHC is growing their hospice service line, acquiring two locations from Casa de la Luz in Tucson, Arizona. The company is actively acquiring hospice locations in areas where it already had a home health presence. Read the rest of the article here.
LHC has become a minority shareholder in a newly merged company backed by the Vistria group. Medalogix and Muse are combining forces under the Medalogix brand. Other minority investors include Amedisys and Encompass. Read the rest of the article here.
LHC is continuing to purchase new hospice agencies. The latest acquisitions are Idaho-based Heart n’ Home Hospice which also has multiple locations in Oregon. Heart n’ Home Hospice will continue to operate under its original name. Read the full article here.
LHC Group is expanding its existing JV partnership with Texas Health Resources and Methodist Health System to purchase a shared ownership of Regent Home Health. Regent will rebrand to DFW Home Health and relocated to McKinney, TX. Rest the rest of the article here.
Encompass Health Corp.
Home Health Care News interviewed Encompass Health Corp. CEO, Mark Tarr about the future of the company’s home health and hospice services. Read the rest of the article here.
Encompass Health CEO Mark Tarr discussed recruitment and retention strategies for nursing staff at a recent conference. Strategies mentioned include, re-recruiting, flexible schedules and technology adoption. Read the full article here.
Eden Health shared the benefits they have received from leveraging nVoq speech-to-text software for their clinicians. They have reduced documentation time and improved patients’ understanding of care plans. Read the full article here.
Eden Health, an employee-owned business, has acquired Whidbey Island Hospital District’s home health program. Read the rest of the article here.
Bayada Home Health Care
David Totaro, chief government affairs officer of Bayada Home Health Care is calling on congress to improve legislation to improve access to home-based care. “We need higher reimbursement rates for these basic services, so that we can more easily hire and, more importantly, retain additional qualified staff.” Read the rest of the article here.
Addus HomeCare Corporation
Despite significant setbacks from COVID and the February winter storm, Addus HomeCare Corporation remains in a good position to improve revenues and continue pursing M&A opportunities in home health. Read the full article here.
Visiting Nurse Health System
Visiting Nurse Health System (VNHS) is making several strategic changes. The company is redefining relationships with payors, re-prioritizing internal operation and recommitting to talent acquisition. VNHS is strengthening relationship with community-based group and nonprofit health systems to gain new referral relationships. Read the rest of the article here.
Alternate Solutions Health Network
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Alternate Solutions Health Network have formed a new home health joint venture to increase access to home-based care. “This partnership brings together a top academic health system and a leading post-acute care provider to serve the growing needs of the patients in our community.” Read the rest of the article here.
“HHS Releases New Guidance on American Rescue Plan Funding for Medicaid HCBS” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 14, 2021
“Home-Based Care Providers with PPP Loans Can’t Bank on Forgiveness” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 17, 2021
“‘A Huge Victory’: Home Care Turnover Remains Stable at 65.2%” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 19, 2021
“How a Capital Gains Tax Hike Could Affect the Home-Based Care M&A Market” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 23, 2021
“Senate Bill Would Extend Telehealth Flexibilities Beyond Pandemic” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on May 19, 2021
“Senate Confirms Brooks-LaSure to Lead CMS” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on May 25, 2021
“CMS Medicare Provider Enrollment Requirements Could Drive Home Health Agencies Out of Business” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 2, 2021
“Senators Reintroduce Home Health Telehealth Legislation” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on April 23, 2021
“Biden Administration Releases $1.4B for HCBS, Senior Health Programs” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 5, 2021
“Home Health LUPA Challenges Continue as Pandemic Subsides” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 3, 2021
“Shorter SNF Stays Could Mean More Room for Home-Based Care” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 3, 2021
“‘A Unique Opportunity for Home Health Providers’: CMS Extends CJR Model” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 4, 2021
“Amedisys Turns to Predictive Analytics to Lower Voluntary Turnover” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 26, 2021
“3 Best Practices for Deploying Speech-to-Text” By Jack Silverstein, Published by Home Health Care News on May 14, 2021
“Home Health Providers to Watch in 2021” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 12, 2021
“Atrium HaH Program an ‘Attractive Innovation That May Extend Critical Hospital Resources’” Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 12, 2021
“Visiting Nurse Association to Sell Home Health, Hospice Operations to Amedisys” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 11, 2021
“Home Care Innovator Lifesprk to Acquire Senior Living Operator Tealwood” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 11, 2021
“Encouraged by Legislative Tailwinds, LHC Group Considers Personal Care Expansion” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 6, 2021
“Encompass Health CEO: There’s Pent-Up Demand for Home Health Services” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 13, 2021
“LHC Acquires Two Casa de la Luz Hospice Locations” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on May 18, 2021
“Addus Encouraged by Vaccine Progress, New HCBS Policies” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 4, 2021
“Medalogix Merges with Muse Healthcare, Gets Backing from Vistria and LHC Group” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 19, 2021
“LeadingAge, Bayada Urge Congress to Invest in Aging Services Infrastructure” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 19, 2021
“Amedisys Triples Hospice, Home Health Growth With More M&A on the Horizon” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on May 20, 2021
“Encompass Health CEO Shares Multi-Pronged Approach to Recruiting, Retaining Nurses” Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 25, 2021
“DispatchHealth Announces New Health System Partnerships; LHC Group Enters Oregon Hospice Market” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 25, 2021
“Direct-Contracting Entities Figuring Out How to Capitalize on Competitive Advantage” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on May 2, 2021
“Senior Care Innovator Bill Thomas: America Needs to Change How It Talks About ‘Home Care’” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 4, 2021
“Visiting Nurse Health System Cementing Identity Amid Ground-Up Restructuring” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 11, 2021
“LHC Group Expands Texas Joint Venture; Anthem Completes myNEXUS Acquisition” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on May 2, 2021
“Alternate Solutions, OSU Wexner Medical Center Form New Home Health JV” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on May 31, 2021