Home Health & Hospice

Weekly Roundup

Homecare Insider, February 8, 2016

CMS extends Medicare home health moratorium
CMS has extended its moratorium on the enrollment of Medicare home health agencies in six metropolitan areas for six more months. That means anyone planning to open new home health care agencies, subunits, or branch offices in the Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Dallas, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, metropolitan areas will have to wait, according to a Federal Register notice published last week.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General believes a significant potential for fraud, waste, and abuse continues to exist in these geographic regions, according to the notice, which was posted February 2.

“The circumstances warranting the imposition of the [moratorium] have not yet abated, and CMS has determined that the moratoria are still needed as we monitor the indicators and continue with administrative actions, such as payment suspensions and revocations of provider/supplier numbers,” the notice says.

Source: CMS, The Federal Register 

Report: Streamlined Medicaid process would boost home health
A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) Long-Term Care Initiative recommends making it easier for states to fund home- and community-based services (HCBS) through their Medicaid programs. The report, titled “Initial Recommendations to Improve the Financing of Long-Term Care,” was supported by a grant from The SCAN Foundation and was released last week.

HCBS programs vary dramatically from state to state, in part because the process of getting waivers through state Medicaid plan amendments is too complicated. Using the streamlined waiver suggested by the BPC, states could:

  • Offer services to people who do not require institutional-level care
  • Cover any item or service that the Health and Human Services Secretary has approved for coverage under an HCBS waiver, including certain rehabilitative and respite care
  • Qualify for certain federal matching funds

Source: BPC, The SCAN Foundation  
Survey takes measure of HCBS
A pilot survey of LeadingAge members in three states found that providers offering home and community-based services (HCBS) tend to be larger than those that do not offer these service. The survey of LeadingAge members in Connecticut, Kansas and Washington, was conducted in 2015. Preliminary survey results also found:

  • 67% of respondents provide transportation
  • 64% offer homecare
  • 47% provide physical therapy, and 47% provide occupational therapy
  • 33% offer home health/hospice services

The least common services offered in-house by HCBS providers were Meals on Wheels (28%), infusion therapy (14%), and legal services (3%), according to pilot survey respondents.

Source: LeadingAge 

Clinton, Kasich lead in homecare/hospice
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Ohio Governor John Kasich are the U.S. presidential candidates with the best records on homecare and hospice, according to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC).

While serving in the U.S. Senate, Clinton was a strong advocate for homecare and hospice who worked to boost access to in-home care programs like Medicaid and Medicare, according to NAHC. She has also included frequent references to home care during her presidential campaign, and in November introduced proposal to permit families to deduct as much as $6,000 per year from federal income taxes for expenses to provide home care to their parents.

During a recent presidential debate, Kasich said one of his most important achievements as governor of Ohio was eliminating the institutional bias that channeled elderly, infirm and disabled Ohioans into nursing homes and other institutions, NAHC stated. Kasich’s advocacy and leadership allowed seniors to move in greater numbers into a variety of in-home care programs, the association added.
Source: NAHC