Medicare Proposed Home Health Payment Rule

Home Health Payment Update

HCA of MA has posted to its website, a summary of the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) changes that are to be effective  on January 1, 2017. The proposed rule implements the last year of the 3.5 percent rebasing adjustments required by the Affordable Care Act; implements the second year of the three year phase-in of a case-mix adjustment; changes the methodology for outlier payments; proposes payment changes for Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT); discusses monitoring and research regarding the impact of the changes; seeks comments on a potential process for grouping claims centrally during processing; and proposes changes to the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) Model; and updates the Home Health Quality Reporting Program (HH QRP).  The Alliance has prepared a PPS Rates spreadsheet with all of the HHRG rates in each county in MA.

Comments are due no later than August 26, 2016 no later than 5:00 p.m.

One Care Program Extended Through 2018

MassHealth announced that the One Care Program for individuals dually eligible for Medicare and MassHealth and between the ages of 21 and 64 has been extended through 2018.

Part of this new agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is that MassHealth will be accepting letters of intent (LOI) from entities interested in becoming One Care Plans effective January 1, 2018.

Beginning in 2013, the One Care program included several plans that were whittled down to what is now Commonwealth Care Alliance and Tufts Health Plan, which began participation in the initiative as Network Health. Funding issues were at the center of why other plans could not sustain covering One Care enrollees, although adjustments have been worked out that are intended to help plans better predict costs and assess financial risk. Fallon Total Care was the latest to drop their participation in June 2015.

Out of 103,041 eligible individuals, MassHealth reports that 13,038 are covered by the two One Care Plans. Commonwealth Care Alliance covers the bulk of that total with 10,050 enrollees as of June 1, 2016. According to the latest enrollment report, more than 30,000 individuals have “opted out” of the One Care Program.

Return to

What the Senate’s Economic Development Bill did for Home Care

Late Thursday night, the Senate wrapped up debate on more than 200 amendments to legislation promoting economic and workforce development and the Home Care Alliance was active on several issues.

Senate Bill 2423, “An Act relative to job creation, workforce development and infrastructure investment,” created a a special commission to investigate and report on barriers to meeting labor market demands in the commonwealth. The commission’s report can include a broad range of industries, but according to the legislation, it must consist of cyber-security, high technology and biotechnology, early education and care, home care and home health. Despite this focus, the “labor commission,” as it was labeled, did not have a member that represented the home care industry.

Working together with the Home Care Aide Council, and Senator Patricia D. Jehlen’s office, an amendment was adopted to get a home care agency representative on that commission. If the Senate’s legislation advances and is passed, this commission will be shining a light on home care workforce issues on a level of importance that places it with other industries.

The other amendment, which was of great concern, was an effort that would have created a publicly-available registry with the personal information of home care workers. It was the same provision that showed up in legislation and FY17 budget amendments – all of which were defeated.

In this particular iteration, the result was a redrafted amendment to create a registry of home care workers that does NOT include personal information, but rather certifications and whether that worker has ever committed abuse, mistreatment or neglect of an elderly patient or consumer.

The Alliance thanks the many agencies that weighed in quickly with their state senator by phone and email on both of these matters.

The Senate’s legislation now must pass a conference committee process where differences between S.2423 and the House’s version of the bill must be worked out.

Further updates will be shared when they become available.

Return to

Advocacy Alert: Gain Support for Home Care in Workforce Development Bill

Today, the State Senate will be discussing more than 200 amendments to Senate Bill 2423, “An Act relative to job creation, workforce development and infrastructure investment.”

The Home Care Alliance is actively advocating on the following issues and urge HCA members and advocates to contact their state senator by sending a message through our ADVOCACY CENTER and calling offices by using the talking points below.

If you do NOT know who represents you in the State Senate, please visit this site for assistance.

  • OPPOSE Amendment #136 – “Strengthening the Home Care Program”
    • Background: This amendment would create a publicly-available registry listing the personal information of home care workers.
    • The Home Care Alliance is opposed to allowing the public access to the personal information of home care workers proposed in this amendment, including full legal name, date of birth, home address and gender of these workers.
    • This information provides no benefit to consumers of home care services and no benefits to home care workers.
  • SUPPORT Amendment #148 – “Labor Commission Membership”
    • Background: Section 109 of S.2423 creates a special commission to investigate and report on barriers to meeting labor market demands in the commonwealth, including home care – however, there is no home care membership on the commission.
    • The Home Care Alliance supports placing a home care agency representative with knowledge of home care workforce on the Labor Commission.

If you have any questions, please contact James Fuccione at the Alliance.

Return to

Governor Outlines Budget Vetoes, Slashes Pediatric Palliative Care

With $256 million in spending reductions, the Governor approved his final approved FY17 state budget and it’s now up to the House and Senate to now discuss overrides before formal sessions conclude at the end of July.

Among the items preserved was a $200,000 item for the Department of Higher Education that funds the Nursing and Allied Health Workforce Initiative. The Home Care Alliance is among a large group of stakeholders that advocates for funding that supports grants to teams of colleges, health care providers, and workforce investment boards to advance training and education for nurses and direct care workers.

The governor did, however, reduce the legislature’s funding recommendation for the pediatric palliative care network by $400,000. The remaining $1.8 million is essentially a level-funding from previous years. It was one of 303 line items that saw reduced funding.

The largest reduction the Governor recommended was a $17.8 million drop in Nursing Home Supplemental Rates. The House and conference committee had recommended a total of $337.9 million while the Senate had suggested $332.9 million, but the number being sent by the Governor back to the legislature currently sits at $330.1 million.

Details on the Governor’s FY17 budget can be found on the “Governor’s FY17 Vetoes” webpage.

Return to