Talking Home Care: Serving Clients & Protecting Staff During the Pandemic

Cheryl Rumley—founder and president of Apex Homecare—offers a powerful, first-person account of her experience running an agency during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For the 16th episode of Talking Home Care, Pat talks with Cheryl Rumley, founder and president of Apex Homecare in Springfield, Massachusetts. Cheryl offers a powerful, first-person account of her experience running an agency during the pandemic. Like many owners, Cheryl had to figure out how to care for her clients while also looking out for her employees’ safety and need to care for their own families.

They also discuss Cheryl’s connection to the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and Governor Charlie Baker’s leadership during the last 18 months.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking any of the platform images above, clicking “play,” or downloading it directly (Length: 21 minutes; Size: 15 MB).

Cheryl Rumley and Pat Kelleher
Cheryl Rumley and Pat Kelleher

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review so others can find it.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Re-Launched & Improved Online Agency Search

Redesigned from scratch, the Alliance’s new Find an Agency Search is designed to connect families and referral sources with home care agencies quickly and easily.

Redesigned from scratch, the Alliance’s new Find an Agency Search is designed to connect families and referral sources with home care agencies quickly and easily.

The new search is fast and intuitive, allowing users to quickly filter agencies by geography, services offered, agency type, and accreditation status (or any combination of those factors). Alternatively, users looking for a specific agency may search for it by name.

Results update immediately, as users select criteria, and the search counts the number of agencies shown at any given time. Though designed for desktop use, it also works on mobile platforms.

This is a massive improvement over the old search in both design and function, particularly in terms of how it displays search results.

Old Search

New Search

To test the search for yourself, visit www.thinkhomecare.org/agencies. Questions? Contact me at tmeyer@thinkhomcare.org.

Black History Month Interviews: Felicia Moore of Neighborhood Home Care

During Black History Month, we’re honored to share stories from members of color. That is why it was my privilege to talk with Felicia Moore of Neighborhood Home Care.

Moving from Mississippi to Massachusetts would be a culture shock for anyone. However, Felicia Moore of Neighborhood Home Care has used that experience to educate and serve communities in which healthcare can be hard to find and is often misunderstood.

During Black History Month, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts is honored to share stories from members of color who own and operate home care agencies in Massachusetts. That is why it was my privilege to talk with Felicia. She is passionate about providing healthcare and education, especially to those in underserved communities. You can see it through the way she speaks and reminisces about her experiences.

The Alliance’s Michelle Burton and Neighborhood Home Care’s Felicia Moore (Full Interview)

Felicia shares what drew her to home care, how it has shaped her journey, and what differentiates her agency from others. In the clips below, she shares with us a client story that has stuck with her, as well as on the importance of trust in forming connections with clients in their homes.

Stay tuned for more interviews this week.


Moore: “I did not get here by myself.”
Moore on Inspiring Others
Moore on the Real Standard of Success

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Talking Home Care: Employment Law During a Pandemic with Angelo Spinola

Veteran litigator Angelo Spinola answers questions about how agencies are rising to meet the biggest employment law challenges they face, including those posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Angelo Spinola and Pat Kelleher

Even in the best of times, human resource issues pose an enormous challenge to home care agencies. But when responding to a global pandemic, many agencies found themselves scrambling to address new questions. How do you help employees with childcare challenges? How do you handle on-boarding (and firing) when everyone is working off-site? Who pays for COVID tests, and how should time spent getting the test be compensated? Can employers require vaccinations?

For the 15th episode of Talking Home Care, Pat speaks with Angelo Spinola of Littler Mendelson, a leading employment law litigator about these and other issues. They also discuss the subscription-based, on-line Home Care Toolkit Littler developed and constantly updates. The Toolkit gives agencies access to a world-class HR resource, policy manual, and document library that’s like adding an expert to your staff.

The Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts has negotiated a special agreement with Littler to give our members access to the Toolkit at a great price, with a portion of all sales supporting the Alliance! To learn more or to order your subscription, contact Melissa Mann at MMann@littler.com or (404)760-3928.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking any of the platform images above, clicking “play,” or downloading it directly (Length: 40 minutes; Size: 29 MB).

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review so others can find it.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Talking Home Care: Home Care Heroes During a Pandemic

Front-line heroes share their stories about overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has created huge challenges to healthcare systems across the globe, including here in Massachusetts. As part of National Home Care and Hospice Month, we collected first-hand stories from our members about the front-line challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.

For the 14th episode of Talking Home Care, we’ve collected these stories into a single podcast. They are introduced by Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher and are read by drama students at Winthrop Middle School.

You may listen to the podcast by clicking any of the platform images above, clicking “play,” or downloading it directly (Length: 41 minutes; Size: 29 MB).

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review so others can find it.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

CMS Finally Releases Updated ABN Form!

Providers will need to use the renewed ABN form starting this August.

CMS just released the long-awaited Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN). The current ABN form expired in March 2020, so CMS instructed providers to continue using the expired form, since the form’s renewal was on hold at the Office of Management and Budget during the Public Health Emergency. Yesterday, CMS posted the updated ABN Form CMS-R-131 and form instructions (see the Downloads section at the bottom of the linked page).

The renewed form (with the expiration date of June 30, 2023) will be mandatory beginning August 31, 2020.  The ABN is issued by home health and hospice providers to Medicare beneficiaries in situations where Medicare payment is expected to be denied. The ABN is issued in order to transfer potential financial liability to the Medicare beneficiary in certain instances. Guidelines for issuing the ABN can be found beginning in Section 50 in the Medicare Claims Processing Manual, 100-4, Chapter 30 (PDF).

COVID-19 Resources for Home Care & Hospice Agencies

To ensure members have access to information they can trust, the Alliance has put together a COVID-19 Resource Page, linking to federal, state, and other essential sources.

COVID-19

To ensure members have access to information they can trust, the Alliance has put together a COVID-19 Resource Page linking to federal, state, and other essential sources.

We’ll update it as new information becomes available.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Talking Home Care: Marijuana and the Workplace

Pat Kelleher speaks with Layla G. Taylor about what employers need to know about marijuana.

Taylor and Kelleher

With many states (including Massachusetts) decriminalizing marijuana in recent years, home care agencies and other employers find themselves having to answer questions they never thought to ask. How do I protect my clients? What are my employees’ rights? Am I still allowed to issue drug tests and, if so, under what circumstances?

For the 13th episode of the Talking Home Care podcast, Pat Kelleher explores these and other questions with Layla Taylor, a partner at Sullivan, Hayes & Quinn and an expert in employment and labor law.

(If you’re a return listener from iTunes, please subscribe to the podcast; we moved the feed to a new location last year).

You may listen to the podcast by clicking any of the platform images above, clicking “play,” or downloading it directly (Length: 25 minutes; Size: 19 MB). If you enjoy the podcast, please give us a five-star review so others can find it.

Host: Patricia Kelleher is the Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts.

GuestsLayla G. Taylor is an attorney with Sullivan Hayes & Quinn who focuses on labor and employment law.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

HHAs are Experiencing New Round of Targeted Probe and Educate

National Government Service (NGS) announces two new rounds of Targeted Probe and Educate (TPE) for home health agencies

Last month, the National Government Service (NGS) notified the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts about two new rounds of Targeted Probe and Educate (TPE):

High therapy utilization. NGS will be reviewing documentation to ensure all CMS requirements have been met on therapy assessments and 30-day reassessments, as well as, medical necessity.

Documentation supporting homebound criteria. The second edit is specific to four diagnoses: Heart Failure, COPD, Dementia, and Diabetes and if the documentation confirms homebound status.

Many HHAs have contacted me over the past few weeks with questions about the TPE, so I thought I would review the rules because I am sure others have the same questions.

How Will the HHA be Notified: You will receive a letter from NGS stating the focus of the targeted probe: high therapy or homebound for one of the four diagnoses listed above. Expect to receive between 20–40 ADRs, although every agency targeted so far has received a request for the 40 records.

Additional Documentation Request: The Medicare system will generate ADRs and you have a total of 45 days to respond with the requested medical records. Note: It is best to send in at least 30 -35 days, as NGS considers their time to acknowledge receipt of the documentation into their system as part of the 45-day timeframe. If your ADR is one day late it is considered “no response” and counts as an error.

Calculation: NGS calculates the Percent Error Rate (PER) by taking the dollars Medicare would have paid the HHA versus the dollars denied obtaining a percentage. The PER must be 15 percent or below for the HHA to be released from the next round of TPE.

Results Letter: At the conclusion of a round of review, you will receive a letter outlining the TPE process, the reason for denials including the Medicare regulations, denial rates (PER), release or retention from medical review and offer for one-on-one education information.

Education: One-on-one education between NGS medical reviewers and the provider. It is very important to accept the education from NGS at the end of the audit; accepting the education demonstrates that you are trying to improve documentation and will help with the second round of TPE.

If you have any questions or concerns about TPE, it would be great to hear from you. Good Luck!

The Alliance Revamps Its Advocacy Action Center

The Alliance’s redesigned Advocacy Action Center makes it easier for members to communicate with their elected officials on the pressing issues facing their agencies.

HCA CapitolFor the first time in many years, the Alliance has redesigned its Advocacy Action Center website, offering members an enhanced advocacy experience so they can easily communicate with their elected officials on the pressing issues facing their agencies. This  post will highlight some of the key changes so that you are prepared to take action and make a difference!

Main-Page Scrolling Advocacy Feature

The main Advocacy Action Center page now features a scrolling banner of key advocacy initiatives that the Alliance and its members are working on. The banner has a functioning link which you can click on to bring you directly to the action center to quickly send an email to your elected official.

Main-Page Buttons

Under the scrolling banner, you will see three buttons linking to sub-pages. This organizes the Advocacy Action Center into three easily accessible topics: Legislative Priorities, Testimony/Comments, and Facts & Figures. Note: The Facts & Figures sub-page is currently being updated.

Legislative Priorities Sub-Page

Among the biggest of changes, is our newly designed Legislative Priorities page. For the first time, members now have a centralized landing page which organizes all of the Alliance’s legislative priorities in one place. You’ll see the page is split in half, organized by State and Federal priorities.

You’ll also see that each legislative issue has a brief overview of the issue and the solution that HCA supports. Underneath each blurb are links to download the fact sheets for, or take action on, the issue!

We hope that you will find our new advocacy center easier to use so that you can engage with your elected officials, while focusing on running your agency!