The Top Home Care Stories of 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, the Home Care Alliance looks back on the year in home care news. The Jimmo case, Boston Marathon Bombing, and the shutdown of the federal government all were stories that had an enormous impact on home care agencies and made some people realize the importance of home care services. Other stories more specific to the industry like Medicare “rebasing” cuts and HCA’s policy victory of getting state-based reimbursement for home telemonitoring reflect the ongoing work needed to push decision-makers on what home care can do for people.

See the top home care news of 2013 and let us know what you think in the comments section!

January

Judge Approves ‘Improvement Standard’ Settlement

On January 24, 2013, the Chief Judge of Vermont’s U.S. District Court gave her approval  during a scheduled fairness hearing for an ‘improvement standard’ settlement (Jimmo v. Sebelius).  This settlement could lead to more long-term care in the home health setting and open the benefit to patients who were previously denied coverage….

Guest Post: New MA Staffing Agency Regs

On January 31, 2013, Massachusetts will become the second state to require staffing agencies to provide basic job information to employees assigned to temporary or part-time jobs.  An Act Establishing a Temporary Worker’s Right to Know will amend Massachusetts General Law, chapter 149, section 159C.  The following article provides an overview of the substance of the law and how to comply….

February

Guest Post: The Way Toward Effective Change: Go See and Respectfully Ask Why

whyLeading a home care agency  in today’s changing healthcare environment is challenging to say the least!   We must daily  juggle the needs of patients, families, employees, referral sources, insurance companies, and regulatory agencies.  With only so many hours on in a day,  we jump to the operational solution that is the quickest or most obvious.  Many times we are right, but some of the solutions we put in place are not always implemented effectively and are not sustained.  Why?…

Guest Post: Time for Nurse Delegation Bill to Pass

Once again this legislative session, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts has filed a bill (An Act Relative to Home Health & Hospice Aides) to allow nurses working in home health agencies and hospices to delegate the administration of certain medications to home health aides. Before this would occur, the home health agencies would need to provide training, certify competency skills and  establish documentation protocols according to the nurse delegation model developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Such regulations, according to the bill, will be drafted by the state’s Board of Registration in Nursing in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and with nursing input…

March

HCA Executive Director Named to Key Health Policy Advisory Group

Home Care Alliance Executive Director Patricia Kelleher has been named to the Health Policy Commission Advisory Council joining a list of other health care leaders  who will help guide the implementation of the state’s Health Care Cost Containment Law.

Better known as Chapter 224, (“An Act Improving the Quality of Health Care and Reducing Costs through Increased Transparency, Efficiency and Innovation”) the law requires the Health Policy Commission’s (HPC) Executive Director to establish the Advisory Council and designate members with diverse perspectives on the health care system to two-year terms. The Council will advance Chapter 224 implementation by advising on the HPC’s overall operations and policies, providing feedback on a grant program to support new system delivery and payment reform methods, and encouraging public and stakeholder engagement in the HPC’s work….

New HIPAA Rules Issued: Disclosures and Revised Notices of Privacy Practices

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued final rules to:

Modify the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security and Enforcement Rules to implement statutory amendments under the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) to strengthen the privacy and security protection for individuals’ health information…

April

Home Care Agencies Donate Services to Boston Marathon Bombing Victims

BostonStrongRibbon.jpgHome care agencies are pitching in to help those injured in the Boston Marathon bombing by donating personal care services to victims whenever they are discharged from the city’s hospitals.

The Home Care Alliance is coordinating the volunteer effort that currently includes 55 agencies collectively providing coverage to the entire state. So, no matter where in Massachusetts one of the affected people may live, an agency stands ready to help their transition back home.

May

HCA Celebrates National Nurses Week

The Home Care Alliance is proud to join associations and medical providers from across the state and country in celebrating National Nurses Week.

Every year on May 6-12, National Nurses Week raises awareness of the value of nursing and the hard work performed everyday by nurses in all health care settings. In particular, the Home Care Alliance thanks the nurses working in home health care – along with the therapists, social workers, aides and other staff that are part of the care team with nurses – to ensure that people can remain at home for as long as possible….

Guest Post: ICD-10 Preparedness – Where Are You in the Process?

Medicare Certified Home Health Agencies need to implement their ICD-10 preparedness plans now.  This is the single largest change the health care system has seen since the inception of Medicare.  Changing to ICD-10 is not a simple coding change: it impacts every department in the organization.  Follow these 5 steps to develop your agency’s ICD-10 preparedness plan….

June

2013 Annual Report Available

As the Alliance prepares for its new membership year, we review our recent accomplishments….

CMS Reveals Proposed Rule with Further Cuts to Home Health Care

After Medicare payment cuts to home health agencies amounting to an estimated $72.5 billion over a 10-year period, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the proposed rule on the Home Health Prospective Payment System with further cuts reducing payments by $290 million…

July

Budget Passes With Telehealth, Pediatric Palliative Care Funding

After years of advocacy and passing budget items with weak language that did not compel MassHealth to act, the Governor signed off on the $33.6 billion FY2014 state budget with a provision that recognizes home telehealth as a reimbursable service….

New Web Resource on Hospital Quality Adds Home Health Data

A collaborative effort of three leading healthcare trade associations has brought a new, first-in-the-nation website for consumers to find quality data on the state’s hospitals and,more recently, federally-certified home health agencies…

August

Comments Due on Home Health 2014 Payment Rule

The Home Care Alliance is in the process of preparing comments on the June 27, 2013 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed rule that sets out the proposed rates for home health services in 2014. The proposed changes for 2014 include the first of a planned four year “rebasing” of home health rates…

September

Revised Publication Available for Reporting Fraudulent Home Care Referral Practices

In an effort to help home health agencies educate their partners in the provider community about lawful referral practices, the Home Care Alliance has revised and updated the first in a publication series called “Keeping It Legal.”…

In Choosing A Healthcare Provider, It’s “Your Care, Your Choice”

Last week, the Alliance published its “Keeping It Legal” brochure to educate health care providers about lawful referral practices.

This week, we’re following up with a companion guide on the subject, designed for patients and families titled “Your Care, Your Choice,” which reminds patients of their right to choose their own providers, and empowers them to report facilities that attempt to violate these rights….

HCA Statement on Indictment of Waltham Home Health Agency Owner

Boston, MA – The arrest on September 16th of the owner/proprietor of a Massachusetts home health agency on charges of defrauding the federal Medicare program should be seen as a wake-up call to federal and state officials that unlimited expansion of home health agencies is threat to the Medicare program and its beneficiaries.  The Home Care Alliance applauds the efforts of the federal Office of the Inspector General in identifying the aberrant behavior of this agency and reiterates its call for the federal government to do more to target abusive agencies…

October

CMS Posts Clarification of the Definition “Confined to Home”

On October 18th, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released Change Request 8444Home Health Clarification of Benefit Policy Manual Language on Confined to Home.  This Change Request requires Medicare contractors to be aware of the clarification of the definition “confined to the home” as stated in the revised section 30.1.1 of Chapter 7 of the “Medicare Benefit Policy Manual”. In addition, CMS removed vague terms, such as “generally speaking”, to ensure the definition is clear and specific. CMS has also release a MLN Matters for provider reference. The implementation date for this clarification is November 19th, 2013…

Government Shutdown Delays Quarterly OASIS Q&As

Due to the government shutdown, the CMS OASIS Quarterly Q&As will not be released on October 16, 2013 as previously expected. As soon as the government reopens for business, the Q&A release will be rescheduled and the HCA will post the results in our Update…

 

November

Visit Our New Home Care Month Webpage and Raise Awareness

November is National Home Care and Hospice Month and the Home Care Alliance has put up a special webpage full of resources and information to help agencies and advocates raise awareness….

Statement of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts on CMS’ Final Rule Slashing Home Health Care Payments

The following is a statement from the Home Care Alliance regarding the CMS Final Rule on Home Health Rebasing. The Alliance invites its members and advocates to share this with their local media…

December

Advocacy Alert: Contact Congress to Support Amendment that Delays Rebasing Cuts

U.S. Capitol BuildingCongress is working in the final days before the holiday recess on a long-term Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) process and an amendment to that process could delay the impending rebasing cut to home health care.

The Alliance is asking that agencies and advocates contact their Member of Congress TODAY to educate them about the amendment and what it means for Medicare home health agencies….

National Association Provides Update on Rebasing, SGR

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) held a conference call revealing a frantic final week of advocacy activity before Congress takes its holiday recess until the New Year.

The major part of that activity for home health agencies centered around the attempt to delay the impacts of Medicare “rebasing” cuts through an amendment to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) fix – also known as the physician fix….

HCA looks forward to another year of working on behalf of Massachusetts home care agencies and shining a light on the great work performed each day to help keep people independent in their homes.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

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