Home Health & Hospice

Weekly Roundup

Homecare Insider, January 18, 2016

Senate bill would expand insurance for homecare

A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last month could expand home health services to reach more Americans. In December, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced the Disability Integration Act of 2015 (S.2427). The act would ensure seniors and disabled citizens have timely access to home health services under Medicare by requiring insurers to pay for home health services for disabled adults to receive care in their own homes.

The act would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue regulations that clarify specifics on eligibility and minimum requirements for coverage of services and supports, according to a statement on Sen. Schumer’s website. Public entities and long-term services and supports (LTSS) insurance providers would be required to conduct evaluations of their current practices and policies within six months of the release of these new regulations to describe current gaps in their systems and to address how they will adapt their policies and practices to comply accordingly.

The bill was assigned to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on December 18.

Source: Congress.gov, Office of Sen. Charles Schumer

Highmark drops eight home health agencies

Insurance company Highmark has trimmed eight Pennsylvania home health agencies from its commercial and Medicare Advantage networks for 2016, a move that reflects insurers’ push to partner with the best performing agencies. Renaissance Home Care, Inc.; Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County; Titusville Area Hospital Home Health Agency; Abby Health Care, Inc.; Harmarville Home Health Agency; Nightingale Home Healthcare of Western Pennsylvania, Inc.; Superior Home Health and Staffing Inc.; and The Ambassadors Company, LLC were cut from Highmark’s network. The insurer also dropped 10 skilled nursing facilities for 2016.

Source: Home Health Care News

Group knocks proposal to ‘carve’ hospice into Medicare Advantage

The Hospice Action Network last week urged members to oppose a policy change under consideration that the group says would threaten access to the Medicare hospice benefit. Hospice is currently not included in Medicare Advantage (MA) private health plans.

“All Medicare beneficiaries can easily access the hospice of their choice with no insurance red tape; no prior authorization, co-pays, or network restrictions,” the Hospice Action Network states. However, the Senate Chronic Care Working Group is considering a proposal that would “carve-in” hospice under MA, “potentially inhibiting patients’ access to quality hospice care and placing a heavy administrative burden on hospice providers.”

The United States Senate Committee on Finance Bipartisan Chronic Care Working Group last month released a 30-page Policy Options paper that included recommendations for improving care for Americans managing chronic illness. In that paper, the group suggested extending hospice care to Medicare MA beneficiaries. 

Source: Hospice Action Network, Morning Consult

Complimentary white paper!

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, a hospice should deliver systematic orientation, training, and competency evaluations to all new employees and volunteers before they assume responsibility at the organization. To drive these efforts, HCPro has created the Hospice Orientation for the Interdisciplinary Team White Paper, a training compendium that helps new care staff navigate the core philosophies and practices that shape a quality hospice program. Based on the expert-vetted education in HCPro’s Hospice Orientation for the Interdisciplinary Team training video, this complimentary white paper arms new hospice care professionals with knowledge on essential industry concepts and approaches from the start. Covered topics include:

• History and philosophy of hospice care
• Current utilization patterns
• Interdisciplinary team roles and responsibilities
• Medicare eligibility and payment requirements

To access your complimentary white paper today, visit www.hcpro.com/register/sEV329018. For even more orientation resources Check out the Hospice Orientation for the Interdisciplinary Team training video at www.hcmarketplace.com, call us at 800-650-6787, or email Mary Stevens at mstevens@hcpro.com.