Vaccination Updates, CMS Rule Reactions and Physician Referral Research
To keep you informed on news, innovation, education and advocacy issues around home-based care, we’ve pulled together these important headlines.
COVID 19 Study
CMS released a study stating that although nursing home residents are only 2% of the Medicare population, they account for 22% of all COVID cases for Medicare patients. This means that nursing home residents were 14x more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. The study is a strong argument for legislation supporting care in the home. Read the full article here.
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo announced that all of New York’s health care workers are required to take the COVID vaccine by Sept. 27. Specific call outs for the mandate include nursing home, adult care, long-term care and hospital workers. Home health workers were not mentioned directly in the order causing confusion in the industry over requirements. Read the rest of the article here.
CMS announced that nursing home staff must now be vaccinated in order to be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid. While this mandate does not extend directly to the home health and hospice industries, it could cause stumbling blocks for referrals or organizations sending nurses to care for patients within nursing homes. Read the full article here.
Caring.com surveyed over 2,000 caregivers to learn more about vaccine hesitancy. One in 10 of the vaccine-hesitant caregivers stated that they believe COVID-19 is a hoax and 54% said they would rather lose their jobs than get vaccinated. Read the rest of the article here.
The mass resignation of hundreds of in-home health care workers in Rhode Island has providers nation-wide worried about the consequences of other statewide mandates that might be coming down the pipeline. In some cases, home health and hospice are exempt from current mandates, but it is expected that mandates will expand to include the entire industry. Read the full article here.
New Vaccination Program
NAHC, the National Minority Health Association (NMHA) and the Flex for Checks program are teaming up with companies like AccentCare to encourage home-based care workers to get vaccinated. The goal of the program is to increase vaccination confidence and rates in underserved communities. Read the rest of the article here.
Choose Home Bill
The newly introduced Choose Home Bill would help in-home care providers expand offerings to include services like meals, transportation and ADL assistance that affect the social determinants of health. This bill has the potential to reshape the U.S. health care system for seniors. Beneficiaries would be able to receive 360 hours of extended care services offered in their home. Read the full article here.
The use of telehealth has increased by more than 38 times since the pandemic started and home health agencies are some of the organizations that are most eager to adopt this technology. Telehealth is often used for wound care, personal care and speech therapy services. A study on the impact of telehealth showed that patients who receive hybrid care (a combination of telehealth and in-person visits) have significantly fewer hospitalizations and better outcomes. Read the rest of the article here.
NHPCO and its members have submitted comments to CMS regarding the hospice provisions in the proposed 2022 home health rule. Members are concerned about some of the specifics and have suggested revisions to improve standardization and consistency and bring hospice regulations in line with other post-acute care providers. Read the full article here.
THIS MONTH IN HOSPICE
Concerns about safety, staffing an ethical conundrums around mandatory vaccines are on the rise due to the increased COVID-19 delta variant cases. The highly contagious strain has led to an uptick in cases, causing hospice agencies to re-instate restrictions and consider mandating vaccines for staff. Read the full article here.
Theresa Forster, vice president for hospice policy & programs for NAHC, walked through her reflections on the 2022 hospice final rule and survey updates included in the proposed home health rule from CMS. She found both encouraging and disappointing aspects of the rules. Read the rest of the article here.
CMS announced that the organization will resume Targeted Probe and Educate (TPE) audits in September. While these audits emphasize education and improvements rather than penalties, hospice agencies are still concerned about the potential strain on resources, considering the increase in delta variant COVID cases. Read the full article here.
New data from the Transcend Strategy Group indicates that 81% of physicians see little to no difference in the quality of hospice, home health and palliative organizations in their area. A timely response to a referral and reporting back to the physician’s office quickly is the most important factor they consider before recommending an agency. Read the rest of the article here.
NAHC & VBID
Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice discussed his views on VBID’s effect on the future of the industry with Hospice News. Dombi urges providers to figure out what they think the quality evaluation process should look like rather than relying on CMS. It is important to learn what matters most to the patient and provider and figure out how to measure with objective the quality measures. Dombi also encourages hospices to redouble internal auditing efforts with a focus on quality. Read the full article here.
Annie Acs, director of policy and innovation for National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) discussed the lessons that hospice agencies can learn from the early days of the value-based insurance design model (VBID). The value-based insurance design model is often referred to as the Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in. Stakeholders in the program met to discuss what has been learned from the program regarding: network adequacy, quality measure, payment arrangements and transitions of care. Read the full article here.
NHPCO has released a statement in support of a national vaccine mandate for all healthcare workers including those for home-based care. The recent official approval of the Pfizer-BioNTEch vaccine and the statistics showing that 99% of COVID associated dates are occurring in unvaccinated individuals has added fuel to the advocacy groups’ interest in a mandate. Read the rest of the article here.
Medicaid Pediatric Hospice Benefit
The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a bill to create a pediatric hospice and palliative care benefit within Medicaid. The bill, entitled the Children’s Program of All-Inclusive Coordinated Care (ChiPAAC) Act of 2021 would allow Medicaid pediatric patients to receive curative treatments concurrently with hospice care. Read the rest of the article here.
HOSPICE CUSTOMERS IN THE NEWS
Transitions Hospice26% of the population in Michigan are 60 or older, making the state a promising market for hospice agencies. Read the full article here.
Community Hospice & Palliative Care
Community Hospice & Palliative is expanding its pediatric hospice and palliative care program (Community PedsCare). The program which serves patients from prenatal ages to 21, will now be offered in the north-central region of Florida. Pediatric hospice and palliative care requires specialist knowledge for medication dosing and equipment. Children with serious illnesses account for at least 50% of hospital resources for youth patients. Read the rest of the article here.
Jake Massacci, vice president of human resources for Jet Health spoke to Hospice News about the importance of flexible schedules in recruitment and retention efforts for staff. The ability to strike a healthy balance between workload and personal life and avoid burnout is vital. Read the full article here.
“Choose Home Bill Looks to Make Home Health the Center of the Health Care World” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on August 1, 2021
“Home Health Telehealth Utilization Likely to Remain Strong” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on August 10, 2021
“Mandatory Vaccine Announcement Causes Confusion Among Home-Based Care Providers” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on August 16, 2021
“New Nursing Home Vaccine Requirements Could Trigger Staffing Scramble in Post-Acute Care” By Robert Holly, Published by Home Health Care News on August 18, 2021
“NAHC, National Minority Health Association Announce New Vaccination Program for the Home-Based Care Workforce” By Joyce Famakinwa, Published by Home Health Care News on August 23, 2021
“CMS Study Shows Astonishing Disparity Between COVID-19 Cases in Nursing Homes and the Community” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on August 25, 2021
“‘Mass Exodus’ of Nursing Home Staff Likely to Impact Home Health Providers” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on August 29, 2021
“‘We Are Losing Excellent Direct Care Staff’: Home-Based Care Providers Report Vaccine-Mandate Blowback” By Andrew Donlan, Published by Home Health Care News on August 31, 2021
“Hospice Community Responds to Proposed Survey Reforms in CMS Home Health Rule” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 31, 2021“Delta Variant Has Hospices Increasingly Concerned About Operations, Finances” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on August 2, 2021
“NAHC VP Theresa Forster: CMS Hears Hospices’ Regulatory Concerns” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 2, 2021
“Transitions Hospice Enters Michigan Market with De Novo” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 2, 2021
“Speedy Response Physician Offices’ Top Priority in Hospice Referrals” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 6, 2021
“NAHC’s Bill Dombi: Quality Is Key For Hospices in VBID Era” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on August 9, 2021
“NHPCO’s Acs on Lessons Learned in VBID’s Early Days” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 20, 2021
“Community Hospice Expands Pediatric Palliative Care Program” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 18, 2021
“CMS to Resume Targeted Probe & Educate Hospice Audits” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 23, 2021
“House Bill Would Create Pediatric Hospice Benefit within Medicaid” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 23, 2021
“NHPCO Calls for Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate” By Jim Parker, Published by Hospice News on August 25, 2021
“Hospices Compete for Staff in Job Seekers’ Market” By Holly Vossel, Published by Hospice News on August 30, 2021