November COVID, CMS and Hospice Industry Announcements
To keep you informed on news, innovation, education and advocacy issues around home-based care, we’ve pulled together these important headlines.
November saw another surge of COVID cases across the country and increased calls for relief among care providers for aging and at risk populations. However, changes in testing and the announcements surrounding potential vaccines offered hope for combatting the virus.
COVID and The Addendum Rule
Starting on October first, hospice agencies have been required to supply a “Patient Notification of Hospice Non-Covered Items, Services and Drugs” addendum to patients who request the notice. However, COVID-19 is complicating agencies’ ability to comply with the rule.
At-Home Coronavirus Test
The FDA has signed off on the first at-home coronavirus test. The test allows citizens to conduct their own rapid test at home with a self-collected nasal swab. Agencies providing home-based care are looking to use these tests as well to screen care providers and assist homebound patients who may need a test. This latest test is just one of many testing tools available, but the most exciting announcements surround two potential vaccines.
Moderna and Pfizer have released promising early results for coronavirus vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective and Moderna reports 94% effectiveness at preventing COVID-19. Both vaccines have to be kept at extremely low temperatures, which will create challenges in the delivery process, but many states are already drafting distribution plans. Early policies out of Texas indicate that workers in long term care settings and those serving high-risk, vulnerable populations will be among the first to receive the vaccines.
Trauma-Informed Services Education
COVID-19 may be leading to a rise in the need for trauma-informed services in hospice. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and NHPCO’s Trauma-Informed End-of-Life Care Task Force are helping to educate hospice agencies on this topic.
CMS continues to take action to help ease regulation barriers and encourage the development of new payment models and value based care arrangements.
CMS announced savings from the Medicare Care Choice Model in an annual report this November. The program produced a 25% reduction in spending in the last 90 days of life and a 40% reduction during the last 30 days of life.
Stark Law Changes
CMS issued a final rule updating the regulations for the Stark Law to allow more value-based payment systems to thrive. Agencies that are interested in participating in value-based systems are urged to carefully review the rules and confirm their agreements comply with the new policies.
The Quality Connections Program
NHPCO has announced a program that is may help inform Congress and CMS with quality improvements over time. The Quality Connections program will focus on the development of organization-wide best practices for hospice agencies going above and beyond conditions of participation.
New Toolkit from CMS
A new toolkit has been launched by CMS designed to aid state Medicaid agencies. The toolkit provides states with examples of innovative state models and best practices. The goal of the toolkit is to help inform states’ efforts to strengthen their infrastructure, develop home and community-based services and decrease Medicaid’s reliance on institutional long term care.
Acute Hospital Care at Home Program
The new Acute Hospital Care at Home program launched this month by CMS grants hospitals regulatory flexibilities to allow more patients to be treated in the home rather than in a hospital setting. These measures serve an urgent need to help hospitals address capacity challenges and protect vulnerable patients. Hospitals are leveraging the expertise of home health and hospice agencies as they position themselves to take advantage of CMS’ new flexibilities.
CMS has also provided coverage and reimbursement options for monoclonal antibody infusion treatments to fight COVID-19.
OUR HOSPICE CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWS
Homecare Homebase is proud to serve some of the best agencies in home-based care. Read about the November news from our Hospice customers.
Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care
AccentCare and Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care announced plans to merge in order to provide a full continuum of home-based health care services from hospice and palliative to home health and personal care. Once merged, the organization will become the fourth-largest hospice provider in the nation. Read the full article here.
Home Health Care News followed up on the announcement about the impending merger, delving into the new organization’s potential for assisting hospitals and health care systems with an increasing demand for home-based services. Read the full article here.
Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region
Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region announced their merge with Hospice Cleveland County this month. The hospices are also creating a philanthropic foundation that will support area nonprofits, educational institutions and work by government agencies. Read the full article here.
CHANGES IN HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE
Change inspired by social, cultural and community factors is taking place within palliative and hospice care. Hospice agencies are addressing demographic disparities and reaching out to underserved populations such as the mentally ill, LGBTQ+ community and people of color. Innovative outreach models like the PEACH program are also gaining visibility.
Hospice providers are seeking clarity regarding the definition of “lost revenue” under the CARES Act. The National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization has followed with HHS to address providers’ questions. Many hospice agencies are adopting telepalliative care to support patients and prevent staff burnout.
- “FDA Signs Off on First At-Home Coronavirus Test” by Robert Holly Published by Home Health Care News on November 18, 2020.
- “Hundreds ‘Hundreds of Millions of Dollars’ Being Put Toward At-Home Testing Efforts, HHS Says” by Andrew Donlan Published by Home Health Care News on November 16, 2020.
- “States Starting to Prioritize Home Health, Hospice Workers in Vaccination Plans” by Robert Holly Published by Home Health Care News on November 24, 2020.
- “Report: Interest Grows for Health Care at Home” Published by HomeCare News on November 12, 2020.
- “COVID-19 Complicates Hospice Compliance With New CMS Addendum Rule” by Holly Vossel Published by Hospice News on November 3, 2020.
- “Growing Number of Hospices Pursuing Trauma-Informed Care” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 17, 2020.
- “CMS Launches Toolkit to Enhance Medicaid-Based Homecare” Published by HomeCare News on November 10, 2020.
- “CMS Launches ‘Unprecedented’ Hospital-at-Home Strategy to Manage Latest COVID-19 Surge” by Joyce Famakinwa Published by Home Health Care News on November 25, 2020.
- “Final Rule Revamps Stark Law Restrictions” Published by HomeCare News on November 23, 2020.
- “CMS’s Stark Law Changes Could Mean More Value-Based Business for Home Health Operators” by Joyce Famakinwa Published by Home Health Care News on November 29, 2020.
- “CMS Takes Steps to Ensure Medicare Beneficiary Access to COVID-19 Antibody Treatment” Published by HomeCare News on November 13, 2020.
- “Concurrent Hospice Care Demo Yields $26 Million in Cost Savings” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 3, 2020.
- “NHPCO Launches Quality Connections Program” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 12, 2020.
Hospice Customers in the News
- “[UPDATED] AccentCare and Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care to Merge” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 16, 2020.
- “‘They’re Calling Us Up, Asking for Help’: How Health System Struggles Factored into the AccentCare-Seasons Merger” by Robert Holly Published by Home Health Care News on November 19, 2020.
- “[UPDATED] Two Hospice Providers in the Carolinas Region to Merge” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 19, 2020.
Hospice and Palliative Care Changes
- “Hospice Social Workers Improve Health Care Equity, Justice” by Holly Vossel Published by Hospice News on October 30, 2020.
- “Naheed Dosani, M.D. Expand Palliative Care for the Homeless” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 24, 2020.
- “Cultural Training, Community Outreach Bridges Gaps in Hospice Service” by Holly Vossel Published by Hospice News on November 24, 2020.
- “Hospices Try to Untangle Provider Relief Funds Rules” by Jim Parker Published by Hospice News on November 20, 2020.
- “Telepalliative Care Benefits Patients, Helps Staff Achieve Work-Life Balance” by Holly Vossel Published by Hospice News on November 11, 2020.