Since the onset of the pandemic and the declarations of federal and state emergencies, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts shifted much of its attention and resources to COVID-19-related membership support. To that end, the Alliance:
Was the first state to create guidelines for members—both medical and non-medical—admitting COVID-positive patients. This guidance was adopted by many other states and shared by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC)
Offered regular calls for CEOs of certified and private care agencies to share and learn from each other, as well as calls for clinical directors, HR mangers, and hospice directors
Published more than 50 COVID Updates, a new publication exclusively for our members
Advocated for, and secured, multiple Medicaid waivers, including full payment for remote visits, waiver of certain in-home assessment requirements, and allowance of a remote audio-visual face-to-face (F2F)
Worked with MassHealth on guidance to keep telehealth waivers permanent
Hosted more than a dozen webinars on topics such as: accessing the PPP program, documenting telehealth visits for payment, unemployment and COVID, the CARES ACT, and Medicare stimulus funding
Advocated with the state for COVID support funding, resulting in Massachusetts being among the most generous states in passing federal Medicaid money to agencies in the form of 10% rate increases for home health, 20% rate increases for continuous skilled nursing, and 10% provider payment relief for providers in the State Home Care Program
Answered hundreds of member regulatory questions related to the pandemic
Developed and hosted a COVID-19 Resource page that includes Allied member COVID resource services, generating more than 1,500 page views between March and August
Secured Board of Registration in Nursing clarification, assuring that the federal change related to NPs and home health services will remain operative in Massachusetts after the State of Emergency
Worked with MassHealth on the new agency-directed PCA model program
Coordinated strategy with the Home Care Aide Council on expanded services and increased funding in the EOEA home care program
Worked with the Massachusetts Medical Society to educate physicians about audio-visual F2F assessment requirements
Worked with assisted living facilities and other acute and post-acute providers to educate them on the federal temporary changes to the Medicare homebound requirement
Worked with the Betsy Lehman Center on an infection control training and toolbox for use in homemaker and aide training
Other 2019-2020 Work
Among the member supportive services over the past twelve months, the Alliance and Foundation have:
Moved the entire Spring Conference and Trade Show to a virtual platform available to members on demand
Offered members a one-time 15% dues discount
Worked with state legislators and other stakeholders to advance an effective non-medical home care licensure bill; Legislation is unlikely to be signed into
law prior to the end of the 2020 Legislative Session
Produced a series of videos for our website and for members’ use on working with Private Care home care agencies
By default, the page shows clearly-laid-out information about all of our Allied and Individual members. But by expanding either the Clinical & Caregiving or Business & Administration menus, you can filter the results by service type.
The page is intuitive, fast, and runs on all devices.
As the 2020 Election approaches, the Alliance is launching a Get Out the Home Care Vote initiative. This voluntary, non-partisan initiative — which does not endorse any candidate or party – is aimed at ensuring access and electoral participation for the home care industry and its workforce.
Participating in our electoral process is one our most sacred rights as Americans. As the 2020 Election approaches, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is launching a Get Out the Home Care Vote initiative. This voluntary, non-partisan initiative — which does not endorse any candidate or party – is aimed at ensuring access and electoral participation for the home care industry and its workforce.
Earlier this week, we mailed over 160 Get Out the Home Care Vote posters to Alliance members. These can be posted at agencies to remind employees of key election dates and deadlines and also provides QR codes with links to register to vote. In addition, knowing that our workforce is primarily in the field, we have compiled the Get Out the Home Care Vote resources below, which include pre-written email templates, voter registration resources, and key deadlines, all in one place!
All these resources are available to the public, regardless of membership-status with the Alliance. You are encouraged to print out the poster (11×17 paper), use the pre-written email templates and resource links as necessary. There is power in numbers, and when we vote, we can shape the future of home care.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)!
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.
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).
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.