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 Moves Forward with New Voluntary Bundled Payment

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is moving ahead with a new voluntary bundled payment model despite a call from the American Hospital Association to delay the program’s application deadline from March 12 to April 16. Among myriad requirements, the new version of the bundled payment program sets out minimum levels of use for certified electronic health records systems. EHRs will be crucial to success in the program because they’ll be essential in coordinating complex care cases, experts believe.

Telehealth Policy and Reimbursement Changes Summarized by Center for Connected Health Policy (US)

A significant barrier to the adoption of telehealth (defined here as video consults, store and forward imaging, and remote patient monitoring) is the issue of reimbursement gaps. Basic Medicare (the Federal program for those over 65) pays for video and store and forward only under certain conditions (primarily under rural telehealth programs) but does pay for RPM as part of chronic care management (albeit under a maze of codes and procedures). Medicaid (the state low-income insurance program) is far more lenient, and private pay in states varies widely, with 36 states having some form of parity payment legislation. However, Medicare is planning expansion beyond what is covered in private plans (Medicare Advantage) by 2020. Some Federal programs such as the advanced Next Generation ACO program and the bundled payment Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model have telehealth waivers.

Amedisys-Availity Relationship Yields Faster Payor Authorizations

Thanks to a new relationship with Availity, LLC (“Availity”), Amedisys, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMED), one of the nation’s leading home health, hospice, and personal care providers, is processing authorizations more efficiently – and less costly. To address those long-standing challenges, Amedisys forged a relationship with Availity, the nation’s largest real-time health information network. Availity electronically synthesizes and shares data in real-time between providers and health plans nationwide. This is their first foray in home health.The automated approach has brought Amedisys numerous advantages. It not only quickens authorizations but also lowers administrative costs. Such benefits can produce a ripple effect. Each authorization at Amedisys now takes only 7 minutes to process compared to the 15 minutes required by manual-based processes, enabling clinicians to visit patients sooner and Amedisys to be reimbursed faster.

6 Telehealth Policy Barriers to Watch Out For

Healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to adopt telehealth programs, but they face a number of policy barriers that hinder their plans, according to the Center for Connected Health Policy. CMS, Congress, state legislatures, and other regulatory boards play a vital role in establishing telehealth policy. Policy influencers range from national organizations such as the American Medical Association or AARP to federal and state courts to the Federal Trade Commission. In a recently updated fact sheet, the Center broke down the policy barriers facing telehealth adoption and use.

Almost Family Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Results

Almost Family, Inc. (NASDAQ:AFAM), a leading provider of home health and related services, announced today its financial results for the quarter and year ended December 29, 2017. William Yarmuth, Chairman and CEO, commented: “We’re very pleased to close out fiscal 2017 with strong operating results and numerous accomplishments culminating with our planned merger with LHC Group. Successfully integrating our CHS-JV acquisition and completing the transition of the balance of our home health operations, so that we’re now fully on the Homecare Homebase software platform, bode very well for our future."