To keep you informed on news, innovation, education and advocacy issues around home-based care, we’ve pulled together these important headlines.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the expansion of the vaccination mandate to include assisted living facilities, hospice programs and home care workers. While increasing rates of vaccinations is important, providers are worried that they will lose significant numbers of staff to other industries at a vital time. There are also concerns about the need for clarity around exception rules. Read the full article here.
President Biden announced a six-pronged COVID-19 strategy. The administration requires most home health workers to get vaccinated as well as an increase in testing and masking. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule to require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure full workforce vaccination. Read the rest of the article here.
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) released a statement explaining why they believe that one of CMS’ conclusions is fundamentally flawed. CMS stated that the 2020 base payments were set 6% higher than they should have been to meet budget neutrality. PQHH believes that the COVID-19 has distorted data and that episodes should be compared to pre-covid data from 2018 instead. Read the rest of the article here.
Provider Relief Funds
The Biden Administration announced the addition of $17.7 billion to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). The additional funds will help offset rising labor costs, COVID-19 testing requirements, PPE, vaccine requirements and other pandemic-related costs. Read the full article here.
HHS has also released $8.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan resources for providers that service rural Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) patients. While PRF funds have been a helpful lifeline, many agencies have opted to return relief funds due to confusion over how the rules for the funds will be enforced and concerns over public perception. Read the rest of the article here.
During the pandemic, CMS has allowed flexibility to states to modify their home and community-based services (HCBS) programs. According to a review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 38 states have increased payments for some HCBS organizations. These payments were designed to cover new costs like PPE and hazard pay. 42 states allowed HCBS providers to exceed amount of care limits. Read the full article here.
Long Term Care Recommendations
The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report recommending that Congress expand access to home and community-based services (HCBS). Over 800,000 Americans are on HCBS waiting lists. The BPC stresses that it is important to build up home-based care to create transitional care for those waiting for access to HCBS programs. Read the rest of the article here.
A study from ATI Advisory looks estimates that the potential cost of adding long term care to Medicare or Medicaid programs is between 1.1 and 12.8 billion per year. However, including support for long term care could reduce expenditures in other aspects of healthcare. Read the full article here.
THIS MONTH IN HOME HEALTH
Dementia Patient Increases
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of dementia patients is expected to rise by 40% (139 million) people globally. Currently, around 15.6% of hospice patients have dementia listed as a primary diagnosis and dementia care cost the U.S. $1.3 trillion in 2019. Many hospices have created dementia programs to relieve some of the extra burden on family caregivers. Read the rest of the article here.
The results of a public opinion poll sampling 2,200 adults show support for the Choose Home Care Act. Nine in 10 of the Medicare beneficiaries in the poll said they would prefer to receive post-hospital short-term health care at home. 86% of adults and 94% of Medicare beneficiaries said they supported the new legislation regardless of their political party. Read the full article here.
HOME HEALTH CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWS
The LHC Group announced that they will acquire 23 home health and 13 therapy locations in 22 states from the Brookdale – HCA Healthcare joint venture. These branches are in areas that HCA Healthcare does not currently serve. Read the rest of the article here.
LHC is has completed its acquisition of Heart of Hospice, a provider serving Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina. LHC is creating a new division that will be led by Heart of Hospice CEO Carla Davis. Read the full article here.
The LHC Group is continuing to add to its record-breaking M&A activity this year. The company recently acquired two agencies in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Freda H. Gordon Hospice and Palliative Care and Generations Home Health will join the LHC and fit directly into the strategy for pairing home health and hospice branches within the same service area. Read the rest of the article here.
The Pennant Group
The Pennant Group has acquired Open Heart Hospice which will rebrand as Kinder Hearts Hospice of Amarillo. The acquisition fits the cluster model that the company uses to select organizations that are a good fit for acquisition. Read the rest of the article here.
Nick Muscato, senior vice president of finance at Amedisys, Inc. has been named a 2021 Future Leader by Home Health Care News. The publication interviewed Muscato to learn more about his background and vision for the industry moving forward. Read the full article here.
Amedisys’ joint venture with UMC Health System has led to the opening of a de novo location in Lubbock, Texas. Ownership of the new location is split 50/50. Texas has the third largest elderly population in the nation. Read the rest of the article here.
Chelsey Ammons, vice president of nursing for Care Advantage has been named a Home Health Care News 2021 Future Leader. Ammons shared her views on Home Health industry topics such as interoperability and care continuums. She also touched on the importance of showing gratitude and appreciation as a leader. Read the rest of the article here.
Visiting Nurse Health System
President and CEO of VNHS, Dorothy Davis discussed her plans for the company and the future of home-based care with Home Health Care News. Over the past two years, Davis has been evolving VNHS through restructuring and repositioning. She is focused on adapting to new value-based payment models and maintaining diversified service offerings. Read the full article here.