You Work Hard for Your Clients. Let Us Work for You.

We want to hear from non-members about what they need and how we can help.

The home care industry has met the COVID-19 Pandemic with incredible skill, professionalism, and diligence.

But even the best agencies need help navigating the maze of new regulations, HR changes, supply-chain issues, and other challenges we’ve faced since March. And that’s on top of all the other challenges — business and care-giving alike — that come from running a home care or home health care agency.

(A Two-Minute Survey for Non-Members)

To get a better sense of your specific needs, we’re asking non-members to take a moment to complete a short, 1-page survey. Our team will then contact you within two business days to discuss how we can serve you and your agency.

The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts has the tools, expertise, and resources you need so you can focus on what you do best: Serving your clients and protecting your employees

Questions? Contact Tom Meyer at (617) 482-8830.

NGS Resumes Home Health Medical Record Review

NGS will resume medical record review after suspension from Public Health Emergency

National Government Services (NGS) recently contacted Alliance staff to review details for the resumption of medical record reviews. This follows the suspension of the Targeted Probe and Educate (TPE) audit because of the Public Health Emergency. We expect that this review will start this week. All the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) will publish information indicating that medical reviews will resume.

NGS has shared some details with Alliance staff about this resumption, which are summarized below; however, the details are not yet posted on their website.

    • NGS will resume post-payment medical reviews. This is different than the TPE program. CMS has not provided any direction to the MACs thus far regarding the resumption of TPE.
    • The post-payment reviews are service-specific (as opposed to provider-specific) and will be a random sample. A service-specific review is one where the MAC is focused on the claim and not the provider.
    • CMS has given a resumption date of August 17, 2020. It is anticipated that providers will begin receiving Additional Documentation Requests (ADRs) once NGS posts more information on their website. NGS indicated it will post a brief description of the service-specific audits on its website and ADRs will be sent approximately 2-3 days after this posting.
    • The timeframe from which NGS will pull claims is January 2019 through February 29, 2020
    • The maximum number of claims to be pulled per provider is 20. There is no minimum. This is less than the total number under the TPE program, and a provider may or may not receive ADRs for a full 20 claims. It is anticipated that the majority of hospice and home health providers will not have this many claims pulled. Any providers having difficulty responding to the ADRs on time should contact NGS and they may be able to work with the provider if the provider makes them aware of the situation.
    • Providers should not wait to receive an ADR request in the mail, but should check the status of their claims processing and identify any with the S B6001 status. These are claims that have had an ADR generated.
    • NGS has 60 days to review the provider’s response to the post-payment ADR. Though providers have 45 days to respond to the ADR, a 30-day response is strongly recommended to ensure that the response is received and recorded by the 45th day.
    • A results letter will be sent after each claim is reviewed.
    • A provider may request education and the NGS may suggest education. Providers are not required to participate in education, although the Alliance strongly recommends it.
    • The error rate (payment error rate or claim error rate) is not as important with a service-specific post-payment review as it is with TPE, since there are no “rounds” in post-payment review as there are with TPE. The MACs are not setting error rate thresholds upon which further NGS action is predicated. As with all medical reviews, if NGS identifies a concern, i.e. a quality concern or indication of potential fraud or abuse, NGS will refer to the appropriate entity (i.e., the appropriate QIO or the division of CMS).
    • NGS will continue to make phone calls to providers for missing documentation or questions about documentation submitted.

It is still possible that providers will receive some other ADRs as part of other review programs such as CERT. CMS contractors, including Unified Program Integrity Contractors, may conduct targeted prepayment and post-payment reviews when there is evidence of potential fraud or gaming. CMS has not yet indicated if the results of the post-payment reviews that are resuming this month would be used for future TPE audits.

If you have any questions, please contact Colleen Bayard at cbayard@thinkhomecare.org.

DPH Released Updated Guidance on PPE Use

DPH has adopted a universal facemask use policy.

On July 6th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) updated the Comprehensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidance based on CDC recommendations to clarify the PPE that health care personnel (HCP) use in a clinical care area, especially during this time when providers are trying to optimize PPE supplies. Although this guidance is specifically written for health facility use, there are some best practices that may be helpful for home health agencies when reviewing and updating their protocols.

In this updated guidance DPH has adopted a universal facemask use policy for health care personnel, to use at all times when in the clinical setting.  Facemasks are defined as surgical or procedure masks worn to protect the mouth/nose against infectious materials.  Homemade and cloth facemasks are not considered PPE. Their capability to protect HCP has not been demonstrated and they have not been shown to be effective in preventing transmission of illness.

DPH also updated the guidance regarding the use of KN95 respirators to be consistent with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update to the Non-NIOSH Approved Respirator Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) concerning non-NIOSH-approved respirators that have been approved in other countries.   Consistent with the FDA’s updated EUA, KN95 respirators may be considered for use as a substitute for N95 respirators only if:

  • N95 respirators are not available, and
  • The KN95 respirators have been tested for filtration effectiveness, and
  • The use of KN95 respirators has been approved by your organization.

If a N95 respirator or equivalent is not available, a facemask should be used.

For more details on optimizing PPE refer to the updated guidance.

Image Credit: NurseTogether / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Annual Conference Education (ACE): Virtual Edition is Now Open!

ACE Virtual introduces 27 educational webinars covering topics ranging from PDGM, COVID-19, Staff Retention, IT Security and more!

Although it is a chaotic time, and personal energy probably barely exists outside of work – we know that we must continue to offer opportunities for all to stay educated as we adjust to the “new normal”.

The sessions in this new virtual conference have been made available in a recorded format with the option for members to purchase as individual sessions, packages of 5 (based on tracks), or the full series. Thanks to sponsors, you will also be given the opportunity to receive significant discounts on products (up to 50% off!)!

If a staff member that is in the position of Director or higher agrees to have one-on-one phone calls with our Premium Sponsors you earn significant discounts!

Use the following codes:
3 Sponsor Calls: 30% OFF – ACE30
5 Sponsor Calls: 50% OFF – ACE50


An example of what the platform looks like per webinar

Recognizing #HomeCareHeroes on Home Care Aide Recognition Day

The Alliance and our EnoughPayToStay partners celebrate some of the best front-line workers in the home care industry.

More than 60,000 home care aides are employed across the Commonwealth to meet the needs of vulnerable older adults during the Coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, we were proud to recognize some of these front-line heroes on Home Care Aide Recognition Day. These workers are helping people stay out of hospitals and nursing homes during the pandemic.

These critical caregivers not only care for their clients, but also help the rest of the healthcare industry during the pandemic by helping people stay out of hospitals and nursing homes. Most of these nominees have never missed a shift and many picked-up extra shifts when their colleagues were sick or caring for their own loved ones.

The Home Care Aide Recognition Day is a joint effort through the Enough Pay to Stay Coalition, which is comprised of the Home Care Aide Council, The Home Care Alliance, and Mass Home Care. Please join us in recognizing the contributions of these essential front-line workers.

Congratulations to India Bulgar and Courtney Wilder of Southcoast VNA.

Congratulations to Ramona Jones Weeks & Tiara Sicard of Always Here Home Care.

Congratulations to Dicia Gonzalez and Catherine Haynes of Alternative Home Health Care, LLC.

Congratulations to Zoraida Velazquez and Angelica Figueroa of Apex Homecare.

Congratulations to Michael Walzone, Natisha Burton, Titi Mitchell, and Lurine Handley of Bayada Home Health Care.

Congratulations to Brenda Evans and Janyce Edwards of VNA of Cape Cod.

Congratulations to Sarka Bobb, Amanda Jannsen, Susan Miller and Teresa O’Brien of Care Central VNA & Hospice.

Congratulations to Isabel Vasquez and Maria Lopez of Comfort Home Care.

Congratulations to Alexis Deschenes and Kristen Soares of Community Nurse Home Care.

Congratulations to Jeanne Da Silva and Lynn Clarkin of Community VNA.

Congratulations to Kyle Oldham and Joanna Reid-Ellington of Connected Home Care.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Boateng, Sylvanne Vertisca, Teddy Kirabo, and Annah Kangethe of Deaconess Abundant Life.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Opiro of Elara Caring.

Congratulations to Adjoa Asafu-Adjaye and Randy Kolodziej of Elderwood Home Care!

Congratulations to Lidiya Nazarenko and Irina Tsybulskaya of Family Care Extended!

Congratulations to Marriannys Zabala, Janepher Laurent, and Madeline Cardenales of Home Health Foundation.

Congratulations to Sandra Brown and Marie Alexe Jean of HouseWorks.

Congratulations to Deborah Hague and Colleen Bellew of Mainstay.

Congratulations to Dora Williams and Jennifer Lau of Partners Healthcare at Home.

Congratulations to Edna Ofori-Mitchel and Nontuthuzelo Pepi Masilela of Traditions Home Health Services.

Congratulations to Francisca Depina and Maritza Del Rosario of Upham’s Corner Health Center.

Congratulations to Jennifer O Djan and Theresa Alejandro of Visiting Angels of Chelsea.

Congratulations to Audrey Kaddu and Marthe Komenzimana of Visiting Angels of Chelmsford.

Congratulations to Stella Spencer and Sallay Mboyawa of Visiting Angels of Newton/Canton.

Congratulations to Alex Casimir and Marion Kettell of VNA Care.

CMS Finally Releases Updated ABN Form!

Providers will need to use the renewed ABN form starting this August.

CMS just released the long-awaited Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN). The current ABN form expired in March 2020, so CMS instructed providers to continue using the expired form, since the form’s renewal was on hold at the Office of Management and Budget during the Public Health Emergency. Yesterday, CMS posted the updated ABN Form CMS-R-131 and form instructions (see the Downloads section at the bottom of the linked page).

The renewed form (with the expiration date of June 30, 2023) will be mandatory beginning August 31, 2020.  The ABN is issued by home health and hospice providers to Medicare beneficiaries in situations where Medicare payment is expected to be denied. The ABN is issued in order to transfer potential financial liability to the Medicare beneficiary in certain instances. Guidelines for issuing the ABN can be found beginning in Section 50 in the Medicare Claims Processing Manual, 100-4, Chapter 30 (PDF).

Home Care Agency Advantage Video Series: Agency Services & Benefits

The Alliance is proud to announce its Agency Advantage Video Series. In each video, families, clients, & caregivers describe how agencies provide superior service where it’s most wanted: In the home. This first video describes agency services & benefits.

Why work with a home care agency rather than hire a nurse or aide directly? Agencies provide significant benefits and fewer risks over competitors in the areas that matter the most to those receiving care.

The Alliance’s Agency Advantage Video Series offers a more complete answer from people with first-hand experience. In each video, families, clients, caregivers, and agency managers describe how home care agencies provide superior service where clients want it the most: In their own homes.

Agency Services & Benefits

Home care agencies provide the expertise, flexibility, and security families want. Why hire a single aide when you could hire a whole home care team for your loved ones?

We need your help to spread the word about The Agency Advantage. Please use the buttons above to share this video on social media. To learn more about the entire series and how to easily include these videos on your website, visit the Agency Advantage Distribution page.

2020 Private Care Guides Connect Families & Home Care Agencies

For more than a decade, the Guides to Private Home Care Services have connected tens of thousands of families with the home care agencies that best meet their needs. While our Resource Directory is intended for professionals who make regular referrals, the Private Care Guides are designed for consumers and are always available at no charge, with free shipping on most orders. Choose from among three regional editions:

Guide to Private Care Services - South of Boston Edition
Guide to Private Care Services - Boston North Edition
Guide to Private Care Services - Central West Edition

(Click one of the thumbnails to place your free order).

The Guides contain county-by-county cross-references, as well as short essays about:

  • What home care is;
  • How to pay for it;
  • How to choose an agency, and;
  • The advantages of working with a home care agency.

This year, the Guides also honor three of our Home Care Star Awards winners: Me McBride of South Shore VNA, Vinette Tyme of HouseWorks, and Nicole Geddes of Aberdeen Home Care. Congratulations to these amazing care givers!

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Guidance for Home Health and Hospice Agencies on Admissions from Hospitals Related to COVID-19

The Alliance has unveiled detailed guidance for agencies regarding admissions from, and discharges to, hospitals related to COVID-19.

Today, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts unveiled detailed guidance for home health agencies regarding admissions from hospitals related to COVID-19. The guide is available as a Word document and providers are encouraged to create policies and procedures that reflect their own agencies’ operations, capabilities, and community/patient needs.

The guide was co-authored with Kimberly Skehan of Simione Healthcare Consultants. Because of the nature of the crisis, we are making this available to all agencies, regardless of current membership status.

Specific Topics Covered

  1. Screening and acceptance of home health or hospice patients who have been diagnosed with COVID19 from a hospital
  2. Denial of admission for a home health or hospice patient with known or suspected COVID-19
  3. Pre-visit COVID 19 Screening/Assessment
  4. In Home Visit Considerations for Known or Suspected COVID-19 Patients
  5. Personal protective equipment during home healthcare visits to patients and households with no signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or with a negative test
  6. PPE for a patient with signs and symptoms of COVID- 19, or with a positive COVID-19 test, or with pending test results:
  7. COVID-19: When to Discontinue Transmission-based Isolation Precautions
  8. Patient Education and Reassurance
  9. Hospice Inpatient Unit Considerations
  10. References (CDC guidelines)

For more on the novel Coronavirus, visit the Alliance’s COVID-19 Resource page. To learn more about how the Alliance serves its members and the home care industry, visit www.thinkhomecare.org/join.

PDGM: 3-Month Check-Up Virtual Conference Update

The hosting states of the PDGM Summit and NAHC have decided to postpone the virtual conference until late April so agencies can focus on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for the next weeks.

The hosting states of the PDGM Summit and NAHC have decided to postpone the virtual conference until late April so agencies can focus on the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for the next weeks. 

The following information will explain any conference updates that are included with the postponement:

The virtual conference will be held according to the 4 different time zones: Tuesday, April 28 will be for EST and CST, Wednesday, April 29 will be for MST and PST. 

All sessions will be from 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM according with the time zone.

Attendees can choose which day/time zone they prefer Members who previously registered for the March 30 in-person event are automatically registered to listen to the EST session on Tuesday, April 28 and will receive the recording for free. If you are already registered, you do not need to register again. 

Any members not already registered will now be charged $225 per person plus an optional $75 for the recording. Non-members will be charged $375 per person plus an additional $100 for the recording. 

Anyone wishing to receive CEUs for this conference MUST register separately. CEUs will only be provided to someone who paid for their own registration – not to anyone else that may listen to the live session in the same room or to the recording afterwards. 

There will be an additional session added in the morning that provides an overview of PDGM basics. The schedule will include two 15-minutes breaks and a 30-minute lunch break during the day.

Call-In logistics will be sent our closer to the conference.

For any questions, please contact Megan Fournier at mfournier@thinkhomecare.org.

You can register below if not already registered. 

Register Here