Home Health & Hospice

Congress to CMS: Vouch for face-to-face policy

Homecare Insider, December 22, 2014

The $1.1 trillion spending bill recently passed by Congress to fund the government through September 2015 includes “report language” asking CMS to justify its contentious physician face-to-face encounter requirement for home health certification.
As part of its 2016 budget request, which accompanies the bill, Congress asks CMS to “quantify and explain how the policy directing physicians to conduct face-to-face certifications for home health care has prevented fraud, increased access to health care, and impacted costs to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.” The report states that CMS’ response should include ways to simplify the provider documentation requirements for face-to-face encounters.
In addition, the legislators directed CMS to provide a public analysis related to rebasing Medicare home health agencies within 90 days of enactment of the spending plan.
While report language is non-binding, Congress’ requests could have significant policy implications if implemented by CMS.
According to the National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), which has a lawsuit related to face-to-face requirements currently pending, the spending bill contains the latest in a series of requests from stakeholders that CMS reevaluate its face-to-face requirements. NAHC and its affiliates continue to champion face-to-face reforms, including a phase-in approach to the face-to-face regulations that are slated to take effect on January 1, 2015.
To access the full spending bill, click here.