Hospice News Digest 7-2-2018

News

Urgent Action Needed on Choice Demonstration
NAHC Partners in Launching “Help Choose Home” Podcast Series, Highlighting the Benefits of Home Care
Electronic Visit Verification Bill Passes House of Representatives
New Medicare Cards May Have QR Codes
New Medicare Card Mailing Update — Wave 3 Begins, Wave 1 Ends
Annual Home Health & Hospice Industry Trend Report
Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) FY2019 Annual Payment Update (APU) Reminder and Other Important Dates
CMS Data Element Library Now Available
Kaiser Family Foundation’s Facts on Medicare Spending
Drug Shortage Crisis Concerns Hospice, Draws Bipartisan Interest
PCHETA Mark-Up in the House of Representatives

Events

NHPCO Virtual Conference
NUHC One Day Conference
Senior Expo this October
Data Element Library Webinar

Interest Stories and Other Items

OIG Puts Pressure on as Hospice Fraud Cases Pile Up
Can AI Help Solve The Hospice Eligibility Question?
LGBTQ Senior’s Wariness Can Affect Access to Health Care
Palliative Care: Early and Often
CMS MLN Connects Newsletter for 6-21-2018
Calvin McDaniel’s NAHC Bulletin for 6-22-2018

News

Urgent Action Needed on Choice Demonstration

Via the ATPA Home Health Section:

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: CONTACT CONGRESS
Review Choice Demonstration for Home Health Services Threatens Home Care’s Viability

The Review Choice Demonstration will inhibit beneficiary choice and access to care, increase costs to the already burdened health care system, and do nothing to support the agency’s goals to shift toward rewarding value-based care. The administrative and financial costs associated with complying with the demonstration’s requirements threaten the financial and clinical viability of home health agencies (HHAs), particularly low-volume and rural agencies. Agencies will be forced to reduce wages or eliminate positions altogether to compensate for the increase in costs required to comply with the demonstration’s requirements. Consequently, patient access to home health services will drastically decline, leading to poor clinical outcomes and diminished quality of life.

CMS continues to subject HHAs to complex and burdensome Medicare pilot programs and demonstrations. Imposing another program, the Review Choice Demonstration, will further increase the administrative and financial burdens on HHAs without addressing the home health system’s vulnerabilities. The demonstration is a duplicative process of oversight that will only add to the burdens that already plague providers. CMS should allocate its time and resources to target specific HHAs whose behavior suggests fraudulent activity, rather than penalizing agencies that have established records of compliance with existing rules and regulations.
Efforts to Date

· APTA and the Home Health Section are preparing formal comments to submit to CMS.

· APTA and the Home Health Section are offering members a template comment letter to complete and submit to the agency.

· APTA and the Home Health Section are working closely on this issue with numerous stakeholders in the home health industry.

What Congress Can Do
Please contact your members of Congress [login to APTA’s website to access] to communicate with CMS and share stakeholders’ concerns associated with the Review Choice Demonstration and its potential impact on beneficiary access to quality care. Congress should recommend that CMS postpone the Review Choice Demonstration and move forward only when the agency can ensure that beneficiary access to home health services will not be threatened.

Details and links to resources about Review Choice Demonstration for Home Health are here.

Check out video highlights from Government Affairs Chair Carol Zehnacker on the Section homepage.

The deadline for comments is July 30, 2018. Please make an effort to submit comments before the deadline.

NAHC Partners in Launching “Help Choose Home” Podcast Series, Highlighting the Benefits of Home Care

Via NAHC Report: “For years, advocates for health care at home have talked about the value that it brings to the continuum of care. Our voices are being heard and now is the time for us to spread the word in a new, digital way, about receiving and delivering care in a home setting, and we need your help!

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is pleased to be partnering with Axxess and corecubed on an exciting new podcast series called “Help Choose Home.” This podcast component of a national digital grassroots campaign aims to educate consumers and professionals about the options to choose in-home care.

The focus IS the consumer of care, or the referrer to care. Resources (beginning with this podcast) are available for you to share in your eNewsletters, on your social media, and with ALL your staff who might also want to share.” Download full article here…

Electronic Visit Verification Bill Passes House of Representatives

Via NAHC Report: “The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 18, passed by voice vote a bill that extends the deadline for state Medicaid programs to implement Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) for personal care services for one year. While NAHC supports the use of EVV for these services, but we also recognize that many states have not advanced the development and implementation of EVV sufficiently to ensure its intended purpose is achieved.

The National Association of Home Care & Hospice supports the bipartisan bill, H.R. 6042, authored by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2) and co-sponsored by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI-2), Diana DeGette (D-CO-1), and Greg Walden (R-OR-2). You may recall that Rep. Guthrie is the originator of the EVV requirements in the 21st Century Cures legislation.” Download full article here…

New Medicare Cards May Have QR Codes

“Via CMS MLN Connects: New Medicare cards may have a square code, also referred to as a QR code (a type of machine-readable code). The QR codes on Medicare cards allow the contractor who prints the cards to ensure the right card goes to the right person with Medicare or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits. Providers cannot use it for any other purpose. The RRB issued cards may have a QR code on the front of the card while all other Medicare patients may get a new card with a QR code on the back of the cards. These are legitimate (official) Medicare cards.

Information on the transition to the new Medicare Beneficiary identifier:

New Medicare Card Mailing Update — Wave 3 Begins, Wave 1 Ends
Via CMS MLN Connects: “We started mailing new Medicare cards to people with Medicare who live in Wave 3 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.  We continue to mail new cards to people who live in Wave 2 states and territories (Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon), as well as nationwide to people who are new to Medicare.

We finished mailing most cards to people with Medicare who live in Wave 1 states: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.  If someone with Medicare says they did not get a card:

  • Print and give them the “Still Waiting for Your New Card?” handout (in English or Spanish).
  • Or tell them to call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227). There might be something that needs to be corrected, such as updating their mailing address.

All Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) secure portal Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) look-up tools are ready for use. If you do not already have access, sign up for your MAC’s portal to use the tool. Once we mail the new Medicare card with the MBI to your patient, you can look up MBIs for your Medicare patients when they do not or cannot give them. If the tool indicates the card has not been mailed for your Medicare patient who lives in a geographic location where the card mailing is finished, tell your patient to call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227).

To ensure people with Medicare continue to get health care services, continue to use the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) through December 31, 2019 or until your patient brings in their new card with the new number.

Check this website as the mailings progress. Continue to direct people with Medicare to Medicare.gov/NewCardfor information about the mailings and to sign up to get email about the status of card mailings in their state.

We’re committed to mailing new cards to all people with Medicare by April 2019.

Information on the transition to the new Medicare Beneficiary identifier:

Annual Home Health & Hospice Industry Trend Report

Via Excel Health: “We recently updated the Annual Industry Trend Report. We revised our average length of stay (ALOS) for Hospice patients to capture a longer period of time in the patient journey, as well as track live discharges. We continue to only include discharged patients.  The results of our benchmarking is a longer length of stay for Hospice patients in 2017.” Download the report here…

Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) FY2019 Annual Payment Update (APU) Reminder and Other Important Dates

Via CMS: “CORMAC sends informational messages related to reconsideration issues to hospices on a quarterly basis.  Their latest  outreach communication can be found at Reconsideration Request webpage.  If you want to receive CORMAC’s quarterly emails, then add or update the email addresses to which these messages are sent by emailing to: QRPHelp@cormac-corp.com and be sure to include your facility name and CMS Certification Number (CCN) along with any requested updates.”

CMS Data Element Library Now Available

Via CMS: “CMS has launched the first CMS Data Element Library (DEL) — a public resource for providers, vendors, researchers, and other stakeholders that use CMS assessments. End users will be able to search and obtain reports on CMS post-acute care assessment contents, including questions, response codes, relevant attributes, and importantly their associated health IT standards, in one location. The availability of the DEL will further support interoperability and the exchange and reuse of data across post-acute care and other providers by using common assessment standards and definitions to facilitate coordinated care and improved health outcomes. Data Element Library (DEL)

NAHC Report regarding Data Element Library: Download here…

Kaiser Family Foundation’s Facts on Medicare Spending

Access Juliette Cubanski and Tricia Neuman’s “The Facts on Medicare Spending and Financing” here…

Drug Shortage Crisis Concerns Hospice, Draws Bipartisan Interest

Via NAHC Report: “The Food and Drug Administration identified 39 new drug and biological product shortages in 2017 and multiple ongoing shortages from previous years, a sharp increase from 2016, according to the FDA’s most recent annual report on the issue. The main problems were caused by a major manufacturer shutting down a production facility, and devastation caused by hurricanes, particularly Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico, home to significant drug manufacturing.” Download the full NAHC Report here…

PCHETA Mark-Up in the House of Representatives

Read the NHPCO’s Policy Alert regarding the PCHETA Mark-up here…

Events

NHPCO Virtual Conference

The NHPCO’s Virtual Conference will be July 18-19, 2018. Via NHPCO: “Provided live via the internet, Turning Points – Mastering Transitions in Care will feature:

  • Live-streaming plenary speakers
  • Webinar-based concurrent sessions
  • Video Library
  • Unique opportunities for interaction
  • CE/CME credit for nurses and physicians (during the live event only)
  • Unlimited on-demand access for 3 months after the live event”

Interested? Find out more or register here…

NUHC One Day Conference

The next meeting of the Northern Utah Healthcare Coalition will be a one day conference and tabletop exercise. See the attached flyer for registration information. It’s free and open to healthcare coalition members in Northern Utah and bordering areas of Idaho and Wyoming. A full agenda will be sent out at a later date. Registration is on UTRAIN.
If you do not have a UTRAIN account you can register here: https://www.utah.train.org/DesktopShell.aspx

Senior Expo this October

Come visit your UHPCO & UAHC  Booth booth at the Senior Expo on October! Check it out. More information here…

Data Element Library Webinar

Via CMS: “On Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 1 p.m. ET, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will host a webinar on the recently launched Data Element Library (DEL).CMS launched the first CMS Data Element Library (DEL) on June 21, 2018 — a public resource for providers, vendors, researchers, and other stakeholders that use CMS assessments. End users are able to search and obtain reports on CMS post-acute care assessment contents, including questions, response options, relevant details, and importantly their associated health IT standards, in one location. The availability of the DEL will further support interoperability and the use and exchange of data across post-acute and other providers by using common assessment standards and definitions to facilitate coordinated care and improved health outcomes.
During this webinar, CMS will review the IMPACT Act, standardization, and interoperability, as well as provide an overview and demonstration of the DEL. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.
Webinar Details

  • Title: CMS Data Element Library
  • Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
  • Time: 1-2 p.m. ET

Interested? Register here…

Interest Stories and Other Items

OIG Puts Pressure on as Hospice Fraud Cases Pile Up

Via The Carolinas Center’s News of Note and Home Health Care News: “In March 2018, Health and Palliative Services of the Treasure Coast and two of its businesses paid $2.5 million to settle a False Claims Act (FCA) case related to hospice billing.

A month later, Horizons Hospice agreed to pay more than $1.2 million to resolve allegations that the company fraudulently billed Medicare and Medicaid for services to patients who did not have a life expectancy prognosis of six months of less.” Read Robert Holly’s full article here…

Can AI Help Solve The Hospice Eligibility Question?

Via The Carolinas Center’s News of Note and Lexology: “Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for hospices if they have a life expectancy of six months or less if the illness runs its normal course. And, while providers can take an objective set of characteristics (FAST score, PPS, hospitalizations, MAC, etc.) and predict life expectancy for a population around an average, no one has come close to perfecting the practice.” Read the full article here…

LGBTQ Senior’s Wariness Can Affect Access to Health Care

Via The Carolinas Center’s News of Note and North Carolina Health News: “A few years ago, North Carolina started offering training to people who ran the state’s adult care homes on welcoming and looking after aging LGBTQ residents.

Hundreds of providers took the web-based training, part of the 2015-2019 state aging plan, to bring the care network up to date on the ‘unique needs of the aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community.’ The training meant that the state’s Department of Health and Human Services realized that LGBTQ people often have problems dealing with mental and physical health care providers, sometimes to the point of not being “out” to one’s own doctor.

On Saturday, June 23, a first-time Triangle Expo for LGBTQ Aging Adults in Raleigh will again address challenges faced by this community, as well as resources that may see them through. LGBTQ people shouldn’t have to feel uncertainty when approaching a doctor or other provider for the first time, said Heather Burkhardt, program coordinator at Resources for Seniors.” Read Thomas Goldsmith’s full article here…

Palliative Care: Early and Often

Via The Carolinas Center’s News of Note and Cure Today: “‘The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends that all patients with advanced cancer receive palliative care early on and along with cancer treatment. For those newly diagnosed with advanced cancer, the recommendation is that palliative care should be offered within 8 weeks of diagnosis.’

The quote above comes from the ASCO Answers Palliative Care booklet, which is available in English and in Spanish. It would be difficult to be any more precise about what should happen with palliative care and the advanced/metastatic/stage 4 patient. It implies that if you are not “newly diagnosed” there is no better time for your oncology team to offer palliative care than right now.

However, whether you’re newly diagnosed or not, palliative care can be misunderstood as stopping treatments intended to prolong life. I remember going online when I was first diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, in search of something to help me deal with this unexpected diagnosis at what my oncologist called the ‘young’ age of 50. One of the first things I found, on the site of a distinguished national organization, was a sentence like this: Treatment of metastatic breast cancer is palliative in nature.” Read Martha Carlson’s full article here…

CMS MLN Connects Newsletter for 6-21-2018

Read the whole newsletter here…

Calvin McDaniel’s NAHC Bulletin for 6-22-2018

Read the bulletin here…

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