2010 PPS Rates Finalized: Alliance Calculates Local Rates

CMS posted the final rule on Medicare Home Health PPS rates for 2010 to the web on Friday, October 30, 2009.  Compared to the proposed rates released in July, the final rule lowers the market basket adjustment from 2.2% to 2.0%, which lowers the national standard episode rate to $2,312.94.  The final rule also makes small adjutments to the regional wage index to reflect updated hospital wage data.

The Alliance has prepared a spreadsheet of all HHRG rates for each geographic area in MA.

The final rule also delays for six months the requirement that agencies survey patients using the standard HHCAHPS satisfaction tool.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Congress Passes Joint Resoution Honoring Home Care

House Concurrent Resolution 59 honoring and recognizing home care and the profession of care giving was approved by the Senate last week after winning approval in the House of Representatives by a vote 387-0.  

The Resolution reads, in part:  “Congress… recognizes caregiving as a profession  [and] supports the private home care industry and the efforts of family caregivers nationwide.”

Alliance Comments on PPS Rules

The Alliance submitted comments to CMS on September 28 regarding the proposed PPS rate update for 2010.  In the comments, the Alliance recommended that CMS delay OASIS-C implementation and the new HHCAHPS to give agencies additional time to prepare for these changes.  We also recommended that CMS rely on targeted fraud enforcement activities rather than across-the-board cuts to weed out abusive providers.  See our comments here.

Thanks to the members of the Alliance’s Clinical Directors, Reimbursement, and QI Committees for their assistance in developing our comments.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

CMS Releases Case Mix Analysis

CMS recently posted to its website a Final Report prepared by Abt Associates titled “Analysis of 2006 – 2007 Home Health Case-Mix Change.” The report is dated August 20, 2009.

According to the Report, the average case-mix score of Medicare home health patients increased by 15.03 percent between 2000 and 2007, of which 13.56 percent is atributable to “case mix creep,” according to Abt’s analysis.

CMS Proposes 2010 Medicare Home Health Rates

On Thursday, July 30, CMS posted proposed changes to the Medicare home health payment rates for calendar year 2010. Under the propose changes, the national standard episode rate for home health services will see a net increase of 2%, from the current $2,271.92 to $2,317.47.

The new rules also update the wage index for each metropolitan and rural area. For Massachusetts, the indexes for Barnstable and Springfield are going down slightly. All other regions will see a small increase.

The Alliance has prepared a spreadsheet of 2010 rates based on the CMS proposal.

**Note that these rates are subject to change if Congress passes a healthcare reform bill this year.**

Home Care STAR Award Winners Named

Four individuals received 2009 STAR Awards from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts during a ceremony Wednesday, June 3, 2009.  The STAR awards recognize excellence and outstanding achievement within the Massachusetts home care community. 

Award winners were:

Aide of the Year
Tama Lewis
Home Health Aide, Visiting Angels, Newton/Canton

Clinician of the Year
Carol Doane
Maternal & Child Health Nurse, Walpole Area VNA

Manager of the Year
Katie Baker
Director of Rehabilitation, VNA of Greater Lowell

Home Care Champion
Robert Dwyer, Esq.
Board Treasurer, Norwell VNA

Alliance to Pitch Homecare IT Stimulus Funding

Expanding the use of healthcare information technology is a key focus of the federal economic stimulus program.  While the bulk of this funding is targeted for hospitals and physicians’ offices, the states have significant flexibility in how they distribute some of the funds.

The Alliance has scheduled a meeting with Mitch Adams, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, on Monday, June 1, to make our case for having some of those funds directed toward home health IT.

We need three or four agency IT directors to participate in this meeting to:

  • Describe how agencies currently utilize IT
  • Outline the possibilities for greater efficiencies and better care coordination and integration through expanded use of IT by home health agencies
  • Identify the “bang for the buck” that would result from investing stimulus finds into home health IT.

Members interested in participating in this important meeting should contact Tim Burgers, Associate Director at tburgers@hcalliancema.org.

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