Home Health & Hospice Weekly News Roundup

Our weekly list of news, reports, and information about home health and hospice care. Learn about new studies, trends, CMS regulations and more.

CMS Waives Hospice Rules Amid COVID-19 Emergency

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued an 1135 waiver to relax certain rules and conditions of participation (CoPs) for hospices and other health care providers after the White House declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Declaration of a national disaster allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive these requirements under section 1135 of the Social Security Act. Among the CMS actions that could impact hospice is the suspension of non-emergency survey inspections and rules for replacing damaged or lost durable medical equipment. “It remains vital that our health care system be equipped to respond effectively to the additional cases that do arise, that federal requirements designed for periods of relative calm do not hinder measures needed in an emergency,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “These temporary blanket waivers – offered to providers, and clinicians across the country – are reserved for the rarest of situations. They represent a massive mobilization of our country’s resources to combat this terrible virus. In a time of emergency, the health system needs maximum flexibility to respond appropriately.”

Elderly Care Market Booming Worldwide | Kindred Healthcare, Brookdale, Encompass Health, Genesis, Interim HealthCare, Extendicare, LHC Group, Compassus and Philips Benelux

In this Elderly Care Market report, industry trends have been explained on the macro level which makes it possible to summarize the market landscape and probable future issues. The Elderly Care Market report analyses and estimates general market drivers in the form of consumer demand, government policy and demand which are related to consumer buying patterns and thereby market growth and development. This Elderly Care Market research report contains a thorough analysis of the market and numerous related factors that range from market drivers, market restraints, market segmentation, opportunities, challenges, and market revenues to competitive analysis. Elderly Care Market report is also useful when launching a new product or expanding the business regionally or globally. Global Elderly Care Market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4% in the forecast period to 2025.

NAHC Urges CMS to Make Sweeping Regulatory Changes as Coronavirus Hits Pandemic Status

In a letter submitted to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) urged regulators to make several sweeping changes that would free up home health providers in their fight against COVID-19. The message to CMS came shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially upgraded the COVID-19 outbreak to a global pandemic and just hours after one U.S. nursing home head described the coronavirus as “an almost perfect killing machine” for the elderly. “It is increasingly apparent that care in the home is the most prudent approach whether for purposes of isolating potentially infected individuals, providing direct virus-related care or addressing the risks of infection caused by avoidable exposure to other individuals,” the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group’s letter stated. “As you well know, the elderly and those with fragile health conditions are considered the highest risk members of our society.” Within the call to action, NAHC urged CMS to provide expedited access to — and financial support for — protective gear for home-based care workers. The organization also urged CMS to take steps aimed at creating a direct connection between hospital and emergency department officials to home health agencies.

Meeting the Challenge in Payer Relations

The importance of payers outside of traditional Medicare continues to grow for home medical equipment (HME) suppliers, and the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) is playing a growing role in coordinating efforts to ensure sustainable reimbursements and patient access across a wide range of payers. Since I joined the AAHomecare team in May 2016 to develop a comprehensive payer relations program, the opportunities to protect HME interests in this area have increased. The Medicaid beneficiary population has grown by 26% since the 2010 Affordable Care Act broadened eligibility for states expanding Medicaid programs and funded efforts to raise awareness of the program. However, as the number of enrollees has grown to 72 million Americans, states have looked for ways to keep program costs down, and HME is among the areas that budget officials have looked to for savings. The 2016 Cures Act, which limited aggregate federal Medicaid reimbursement for HME to what Medicare would have allowed for those items, raised the stakes further—especially as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) suggested that states could simply cut rates on a wide range of HME HCPCS codes to match Medicare reimbursement. Working with HME stakeholders nationwide, AAHomecare educated state Medicaid officials, legislators and other government officials on their options to meet Cures Act requirements without reflexively matching Medicare rates. These efforts were extraordinarily successful: Advocates prevented or limited rate cuts in 30 states in 2018 and were able to largely hold the line for 2019.