Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its proposed rule for 2019 home health payment rates and policy changes, which includes significant provisions that will impact your organization, staff, and the patients you serve.
Between now and when the Patient Driven Grouping Model (PDGM) goes into effect on January 1, 2020, there are multiple ways that home health agencies will need to prepare their agencies for the radical change. (See Coding and Billing webinars coming in September, at the bottom of this page) At the same time, home care must take action to mitigate the impact of what PDGM will look like and how it will impact organizational viability.
Home care’s collective advocacy efforts have undeniably made a difference in the past, including putting a stop (at least in Massachusetts) to the Pre-Claim Review Demonstration and scrapping the Home Health Groupings Model thanks to more than 1,200 comments submitted to CMS last year. The more that CMS and lawmakers hear from home health professionals, the better our chances are at reducing the severe cuts that accompany PDGM in its proposed form.
As currently proposed, the 2020 rule will:
- Reduce the Medicare base rate by 8.01% next year, which amounts to a $1.298 billion reduction in home health payments in 2020 alone. CMS proposes the reduction to account for anticipated changes in provider behavior that are unrelated to changes in patients served or services delivered that increase payments. This newly proposed “behavioral adjustment” reduction is up from the 6.42% reduction that CMS initially proposed, and the reduction would start before any actual behavioral changes occur.
- Phasing out RAPS over 2020 with total elimination of RAPs in 2021. Next year, CMS proposed reducing RAPs from 60/50% to 20% for existing home health agencies (HHAs), while new agencies would get no RAP. CMS claims that RAPs create fraud risks.
- Starting in 2021, a Notice of Admission (NOA) must be submitted Notice of Admission must be submitted within five days of the start of care. For every day late, CMS plans to reduce base-rate reimbursements for the unit of care.
The Solution: Pass S.433/H.R.2573
This month, Congress is in recess and back in the states, which presents a pivotal opportunity for home health industry professionals to engage with lawmakers about a key legislative priority – the Home Health Payment Innovation Act (S.433/H.R.2573).
This legislation prohibits CMS’s ability to adjust payment based on “behavioral assumptions” as opposed to observed evidence of behavioral changes, thus rescinding the proposed 8.01% adjustment.
Additionally, this important legislation would:
- Achieve full budget neutrality over the period of 2020-2029.
- Require behavioral adjustments based on real, actual changes in provider behavior in response to the new payment model.
- Permit a phase-in of rate adjustments (up or down) when an annual adjustment would be greater than 2 percent. However, the phase-in would operate to ensure full budget neutrality by 2029.
Email your Members of Congress
It’s not too late to get members of Congress informed and engaged on this important legislation. You can send an email directly from HCA’s member advocacy center.
At this point, Congressman Jim McGovern is the only member of the MA delegation signed on as a cosponsor. We must do better.
Advocate in Person
Join home health industry advocates next month in Washington, D.C. for The Council of State Home Care Associations’ Third Annual Public Policy Summit and Advocacy Day! On September 9, participate in a full-day summit featuring speakers including Hillary Loeffler, Director of the CMS’ Division of Home Health & Hospice. On September 10, we be on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress to convey the critical need to pass S.433/H.R.2357.
Program details can be found here and registration information can be found at The Council’s website.
Submit Comments to CMS by September 9
Click here to submit comments to CMS in response to the 2020 proposed rule by 5:00 PM ET on Monday, September 9, 2019.
HCA and other industry organizations will provide more thorough comments on other problematic areas of the proposed rule. As previously stated, there is strength in numbers, so the more business-focused comments from providers – both large and small – are critical to giving CMS a full and clear picture of how devastating PDGM will be should it be implemented as proposed. Watch Update for draft comments.
Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.