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Recognition for Home-based Care Sparks New Interests for Home Health and Hospice

Published: 09/30/2020
Home Health Checkup

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

This Month in Home Health

Recognition for Home-based Caregivers

September started off on a high note. Political figures have started to call out the importance of home health workers. Vicki Hoak, Executive Director of the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) stated:

I think it’s the start of something. I always like to say we were the prescription to COVID-19 – staying at home, monitoring and dealing with the most vulnerable population to the virus. …I think that also kind of elevated us into the spotlight. It’s just so wonderful for us to see home care workers being mentioned and getting the recognition they deserve, right along with our hospital front-line workers.”

Key Lessons in Value-Based Payments 

CMS released guidance to states to shift their Medicaid programs towards value-based approaches. The guidance is aimed to help align Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance payers by providing key lessons learned and a toolkit for adopting payment reform efforts.

More Patients Leaving Nursing Homes

Home-based care may see a boost in the coming months as families seek to transition their loved ones out of nursing homes and long-term care facilities into home and community-based settings. CMS announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding for MFP (Money Follows the Person) demonstration programs. CMS hopes the funding will spark a nationwide migration towards home-based care. In the announcement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated:

Home and community-based care is not only frequently more cost effective, but is preferred by seniors and adults with disabilities seeking to maintain the dignity of independent living. This new federal investment will help states get our loved ones back home.”

This Month in Hospice

Palliative Care Builds Momentum

The buzz around the importance of palliative care is continuing to build within the hospice industry. According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), about half of community-based palliative care providers in the United States are hospices and there is no sign of this trend slowing down. Palliative care diversifies services for hospice agencies, contributes to the success of value-based programs and helps reduce healthcare costs. Hospice News’ article Palliative Care Expanding in the Hospice Space” outlines some of the steps hospice agencies must take to create a successful palliative program.

The rising focus on palliative care led 60 health care and senior citizen advocacy groups to call for a demonstration to test a community-based palliative care benefit program within Medicare. CMS tests the viability and functionality of payment models and initiatives by conducting demonstration projects before making permanent changes. Edo Banach, NHPCO President and CEO spoke to Hospice News about the importance of a palliative care demonstration. He explained that: 

A community-based palliative care demonstration is especially critical now because it can safeguard the health of vulnerable patients and families against possible transmission of COVID-19 by providing care where the patient lives. These community-based services provide better outcomes for patients and can reduce the costs of care. We believe the time is right to start this demonstration and continue to innovate how we deliver health care in this country.”

Respite Care Bill Now Before Congress 

Troy Balderson and Donna Shalala called attention to the plight of family caregivers during the pandemic by introducing the COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would allow hospice respite care to take place in homes rather than an inpatient facility, nursing home or hospital. Medicare covered respite care would also be extended from 5 days to 15 days. Respite care has be difficult and in many cases, impossible to arrange during the pandemic and the lack of respite care and support has placed an even greater strain on caregivers. 

CMS continues to gear up for the launch of the Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in starting January 2021. In the first year, the carve-in will involve 53 participating MA plans covering 8% of the market. The plans will be available in 13 states and Puerto Rico. 

Source Articles

Medicare Advantage Hospice Carve-In Starting Small in 2021” by Jim Parker published by Hospice News on September 282020