To ensure that home health agencies in Massachusetts can provide high-quality care to older adults, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts has submitted comments to the federal government regarding the proposed rule for next year’s Medicare home health rates. Our comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) address several sections of the proposed rule, including:
- CMS’s flawed reasoning behind the -4.36% “behavioral adjustment” to the rates;
- Concerns about a budget neutrality adjustment based on 2020 data skewed by COVID;
- A market basket adjustment that does not account for ongoing costs related to COVID;
- Protections for counties with large wage index reductions;
- Modifications to the Value Based Purchasing model before it is implemented nationwide;
- Greater flexibility around the five-day deadline to submit the new Notice of Admission;
- Greater flexibility to allow therapist to conduct initial assessments; and
- Expanded allowances for virtual aide supervisions.
Three more agencies earn accreditation from the Alliance, bringing the total of accredited agencies to 59.
Congratulations to Acti-Kare (Middleboro), Kind Senior Care (North Andover), and Northeast Clinical Services (Danvers) for achieving Home Care Alliance Accreditation!
There are currently 59 agencies that have earned accreditation by demonstrating their compliance with each of the 15 standards of our Accreditation Program.
Since Massachusetts does not license private pay home care agencies, the Alliance created a Home Care Agency Accreditation Program in 2010 to establish operational and quality standards equivalent to licensure in most other states.
The program includes fifteen standards relating to: Client rights, privacy, and complaint procedures; Protections against abuse; Fair employment practices; Caregiver background screening; Competency, training and supervision; Insurance coverage; and Compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Accreditation is only awarded to agencies that meet or exceed all fifteen standards.
The Accreditation Program allows agencies to demonstrate that they meet high standards of quality. It shows clients and families that they are protected because the agency directly employs its workers and carries workers’ compensation, liability insurance, and an employee dishonesty bond. Accreditation demonstrates that an agency’s caregivers receive background checks, screening, and proper training for their jobs. Accreditation also provides a competitive edge in the marketplace, contributes to securing new business, and enhances staff recruitment by showing a commitment to fair labor standards.
Accredited agencies can use the Alliance’s Accreditation Logo to show their commitment to quality on their websites, brochures, and stationery. The Alliance lists all accredited agencies on its website, gives them special designation in its print directories and in the online Find an Agency function.
Changes to the OASIS data set will be incorporated into OASIS-D1 effective January 1, 2020. To help home health agencies understand these changes, Qualidigm has itemized the list of data set changes in a one-page document and four 90-second videos.
A number of changes to the OASIS data set have been made and will be incorporated into OASIS-D1 effective January 1, 2020 (click here for data submission specifications). These changes align with the new Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). Under this new model, OASIS accuracy will continue to be important with Functional Impairment Level derived directly from OASIS items.
To help home health agencies understand these changes, Qualidigm has itemized the list of data set changes outlined in this one-page document. Additionally, Qualidigm recently released its Quality Quick Minute video series focused on the OASIS-D1 changes. The videos series is comprised of four brief, 90-second information videos outlining these changes to assist with preparation in anticipation of the January 1 effective date.
The OASIS-D1 Quality Quick Minute video series includes the following:
- OASIS-D1 Changes Overview
- Optional Items
- Follow-Up Timepoint Items
- M0090 Date Assessment Completed
All four videos can also be accessed from the home health section of the Qualidigm website at www.qualidigm.org/our-services/home-healthcare-consulting/.
Senior Business Analyst, Consulting Services
James Fuccione, former Director of Legislative and Public Affairs for the Home Care Alliance, was extensively quoted in an article in the Springfield Republican today. The article, “Personal care attendants have less training, checks than other home care workers,” by Shira Schoenberg, Statehouse reporter for the Republican, compares background checks and training requirements for workers in the state Personal Care Attendant program with workers employed by home care agencies that provide services under the Executive Office of Elder Affairs home care program.
The latest available quality performance measures from Medicare’s Home Health Compare database for all Alliance member agencies was posted this week to the PatientCareLink website. The website is hosted by the MA Hospital Association, and the home health data is posted through a joint agreement between the Home Care Alliance and MHA.
To view the updated reports, visit www.patientcarelink.org and click on the “Healthcare Provider Data” tab and then “Home Health Agency Data” and then “Select an Agency.” The reports now incorporate data for the period July, 2013 – June, 2014, for all measures except measure #30, which is for the period of April, 2013 – March, 2014. In addition to each home care agency’s individual performance, the PCL pages also provide a comparison to the U.S. agency average scores.
“Providing high quality, safe patient care is a top priority for Massachusetts home healthcare agencies,” said Patricia Kelleher, Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance MA. “The home health data on the PCL site can be very useful to patients and their families. In addition, the partnership between hospitals and home health agencies on PCL furthers positive working relationships along the entire continuum of care, which can only improve patient safety and quality overall.”
Join colleagues from throughout the region for the best home health event of the year! Come to the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston for the 4th annual New England Home Care Conference & Trade Show on May 28, 29 and 30. It will feature fabulous keynoters, dozens of informative workshops and 2-hour intensives that will give you new ideas and insight to take back to your agency.
To register, you may either download the conference brochure or register online.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.
The Alliance hit a milestone this week, with a new total of 70 agencies currently Accredited! To earn accreditation from the Alliance, each of those agencies submitted documentation demonstrating their compliance with fifteen separate measures covering client rights and protections, caregiver qualifications and skills, insurance coverage, and employment practices. Details about the Accreditation standards are available on the Accreditation Page of the Alliance’s website.
The Alliance developed the Accreditation program because Massachusetts does not have a licensing program specific to home care agencies. By their adherence to the fifteen Accreditation standards, private care home care agencies demonstrate their commitment to quality.
A complete list of Accredited agencies is available here.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.
Best of Care, a family owned private care agency located in Quincy has acquired Boston-based Independence Home Care.
Best of Care’s acquisition integrates Independence Home Care’s clients, employees and practices while maintaining a high quality of services and relationships with clients and their families, according to Best of Care Vice President Kevin Smith.
Independence Home Care was founded in 2009 by Joan Farahmand and Patrick O’Connell.
As a result of the acquisition, Best of Care’s service area expands from 80 to 115 towns from North Shore to Greater Boston to South Shore communities.
The Home Care Alliance of MA today submitted comments to CMS on the proposed rule setting Medicare home health rates for 2014. CMS has proposed cutting rates by 3.5% for each of the next four years.
Citing data concerns, inadequate allowances for increasing regulatory costs and operating margins, inequities in the proposed wage index, and an incomplete analysis of the impact on both agencies and Medicare patients of CMS’s proposal to cut rates for each of the next four years, the Alliance urges CMS to go back to the drawing board on 2014 rates.
The Alliance’s comments are available here.
Comments to CMS on the proposed rule are due TODAY at 5:00 p.m., and can be submitted online at www.regulations.gov. Enter “RIN 0938-AR52” in the search box to find the proposed rule.