November is National Home Care Month – Honoring All the Professionals that Serve Patients and Their Families

November 14, 2014

 

 

Every November, HCAF celebrates National Home Care Month by working to create more awareness for the importance of home and community based services, as well as giving extra recognition to the nurses, therapists, aides, administrators, and other staff members that contribute to the compassionate care of seniors and the disabled in their homes.

 

HCAF is encouraging our members to get involved in these efforts as well. Here are some of the ways you can help:

 

Members are also encouraged to join HCAF’s advocacy efforts. HCAF has begun organizing meetings with legislators in order to help build relationships between HCAF members and their local elected officials. Stay tuned to future issues for specific times and dates in your area.

 

You can also support home care by giving to the Home Care PAC during National Home Care Month. PAC funds are used to help further the goals of the Home Care industry, such as eliminating the home health quarterly report, negotiating higher rates, and more.

 

Whether it be certified agencies, private-duty, or companionship services, HCAF would like to recognize all of our members for the outstanding work they do to keep patients in the setting they prefer the most to receive care, their home.

 

HCAF Members Receive HHCAHPS Honors from Deyta

November 11, 2014

HCAF is proud to recognize three of our members for being awarded HHCAHPS Honors by Deyta. Each year, Deyta recognizes agencies around the country who continuously provide quality care as measured from the patient’s point of view. These agencies achieve the highest levels of patient satisfaction. This leads to both patient and agency success.

Award recipients are identified by evaluating performance on a set of nineteen satisfaction indicator measures. Individual agency performance scores were aggregated for the evaluation period and were compared on a question-by-question basis to a national average score calculated from more than 1,800 partnering home health agencies contained in Deyta’s HHCAHPS database. HHCAHPS Honors recipients include those agencies scoring above the Deyta National Average on at least eighty-five percent, or seventeen, of the evaluated questions.

This year’s member honorees were:

Ortho Home Health Care – Jacksonville, FL

S.E.T. Home Health – Crystal River, FL

Suwannee Medical Personnel – Jacksonville, FL

In addition, S.E.T. Home Health was recognized as an Elite Honoree. Deyta holds a special recognition, HHCAHPS Honors Elite, to honor home health agencies scoring above the Deyta National Average on one hundred percent, or all nineteen, of the evaluated questions.

HCAF is very proud to have these agencies as our members and would like to congratulate them on being recognized for such high standards of patient satisfaction.

To view the full list of 2014 HHCAHPS Honorees, click here!

OIG Releases 2015 Work Plan

November 7, 2014

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently released its annual work plan.  The Work Plan for 2015 specifically addresses issues for home health and hospice.

Overall, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has identified reducing waste in Medicare Parts A and B and ensuring quality, including in nursing home, hospice care, and home- and community-based care, as top management challenges facing the Department. OIG has focused its efforts on reducing improper payments, improving quality and access, and fostering economical payment policies.

Work planning for fiscal year (FY) 2015 and beyond will consider the following:

  • Quality of care
  • Appropriate payments
  • Oversight of payment and delivery reform

Protecting an expanding Medicaid program from fraud, waste, and abuse takes on a heightened urgency as the program continues to grow in spending and in the number of people that it serves. The OIG’s continuing and new reviews of Medicaid in fiscal year (FY) 2015 address: prescription drugs; billing, payment, reimbursement, quality, and safety of home health services, community-based care, and other services, equipment, and supplies; State management of Medicaid, information system controls and security, and Medicaid managed care.

There were two issues specific to home health providers and one for Medicaid home health agencies. These topics have been part of the OIG’s previous work plans. The OIG’s plan for FY2015 for each of these areas is copied below.

Home Health

Home health prospective payment system requirements:

“We will review compliance with various aspects of the home health PPS, including the documentation required in support of the claims paid by Medicare. We will determine whether home health claims were paid in accordance with Federal laws and regulations. A prior OIG report found that one in four home health agencies (HHAs) had questionable billing. Further, CMS designated newly enrolling HHAs as high-risk providers, citing their record of fraud, waste, and abuse. Since 2010, nearly $1 billion in improper Medicare payments and fraud has been identified relating to the home health benefit. Home health services include part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care, as well as other skilled care services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy; medical social work; and home health aide services.” OAS; W-00-13-35501; W-00-14-35501; various reviews; expected issue date: FY 2015.

Employment of individuals with criminal convictions:

“We will determine the extent to which HHAs employed individuals with criminal convictions. We will also examine the criminal convictions of selected employees with potentially disqualifying convictions. Federal law requires that HHAs comply with all applicable State and local laws and regulations. (Social Security Act, §1891(a)(5), implemented at 42 CFR §484.12(a).) Nearly all States have laws prohibiting certain health-care-related entities from employing individuals with certain types of criminal convictions.” OEI; 07-14-00130; expected issue date: FY 2015.

Screenings of health care workers

“We will review health-screening records of Medicaid home health agency (HHA) health care workers to determine whether they were screened in accordance with Federal and State requirements. Health screenings for home health care workers include vaccinations, such as those for hepatitis and influenza. HHAs provide health care services to Medicaid beneficiaries while the home health care workers are visiting beneficiaries’ homes. HHAs must operate and provide services in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations and with accepted standards that apply to personnel providing services within such an agency. (Social Security Act, §1891(a)(5).) The Federal requirements for home health services are found at 42 CFR §§440.70, 441.15, and 441.16 and at 42 CFR Part 484. Other applicable requirements are found in State and local regulations.” OAS; W-00-11-31387; various reviews; expected issue date: FY2015.

New ACA Employer Mandate Survey Activated

October 17, 2014

In  2013, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice along with its affiliates, the National Council on Medicaid Home Care and the National Private Duty Home Care Association, conducted the first and only national survey on the impact of the ACA employer mandate on home care. The findings were eye-opening for the home care industry, government officials, and policymakers. Overall, the findings showed that home care companies – particularly those that primarily provided Medicaid-funded services or focused on private pay personal care services – were at high risk of significant ACA penalties.

The ACA employer mandate survey has been used extensively by HCAF and others in the advocacy efforts on the employer mandate. Those efforts led, in part, to the initial postponement of the mandate in late 2013 and the additional postponements and adjustments effective for 2014. This advocacy also triggered a series of congressional proposals to modify or delay the mandate, including H.R. 5098 and S. 1330 that would further delay the start date of the mandate. H.R. 5098 is completely focused on a delay for Medicaid and Medicare dependent health care businesses. Also, both houses of Congress have legislation pending, S. 1188 and H.R. 2988, which would redefine “full-time” at 40 hours per week.

NAHC has prepared a new survey to get a “real-time” understanding of the likely impact of the ACA employer mandate. Home care businesses have made a number of adjustments to prepare for the start of the mandate. This new survey will create the opportunity for further evidence-based advocacy.

HCAF encourages every company that provides any form of home care to complete the survey as soon as possible. NAHC is working with other state home care and hospice associations to get the word out on the survey. Other national stakeholder organizations are joining this effort as well.

The survey can be found here.

The employer mandate responsibilities In the Affordable Care Act are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015. Employers of 100 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) will be required to either offer a qualified health plan to all their full-time employees or face a potential financial penalty. For purposes of this law, a “full-time employee” is an individual who works 30 hours or more per week. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has determined that the requirement will be applied on a monthly basis using 130 hours per month as the standard for full-time.

For employers of 50-99 FTEs, the mandate takes effect on January 1, 2016.

The employer mandate involves a fairly complex formula for determining whether and how it applies to businesses. Each business should be individually evaluated to determine if and how the requirements apply to it. The cost of a qualified health insurance can be quite high. Likewise, the penalty cost can be as well, with the penalties set at $2000 each for all full-time employee (after the first 30 are exempted) when the employer does not offer a qualified plan so long as one of the full-time employees qualifies for a receive a federal subsidy. The penalty is set at $3000 for each full-time employee that qualifies for a federal subsidy through the insurance exchange when the employer does offer a qualified health insurance.

Make sure you fill out the survey today!

Home Care and Hospice Preparation for Ebola

October 17, 2014

SPECIAL EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to Barbara Citarella, MS, RN, RBC, Limited Healthcare & Management, www.rbclimited.com, for writing today’s story on “Home Care and Hospice Preparation for Ebola.”  If you are attending the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) Annual Meeting & Exposition in Phoenix, AZ on October 19 – 22, 2014, Barbara will present two education sessions at the Annual Meeting. The first session will take place on Sunday, Oct. 19, entitled “How to Prevent Infection Control Breaches,” and the second session will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 21, entitled “How to Identify Home Care and Hospice’s Triggers and Indicators: Crisis Standards of Care.”

As the Ebola outbreak continues to make headlines around the world, much of the focus, guidance and protocol development have been on acute care facilities. But we in home care and hospice need to be prepared also. At this moment in time, chances are slim we will see an acutely ill patient with Ebola, but we cannot rule it out as the situation changes daily. (As of this moment, a second strain of Ebola has been identified in the Congo, which has a 71% mortality rate.) Here are some suggestions that providers can begin implementing now for the current situation. We will update as it changes.

  • Agencies should begin a comprehensive infection prevention education program for all staff but especially for field staff. Intensive training in the use of personal protective equipment (ppe) is paramount. Staff need to know how to don and doff ppe without contaminating themselves. This includes gloves, masks (either surgical or N95 respirator masks), gowns, and face shields. Hand washing is included. Agencies should bring staff in for demonstrations and re-demonstrations. An increase in field supervision should follow as a “buddy system” to monitor infection prevention technique.
  • Reinforce the proper use of bag technique. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola can be spread by contact with previously contaminated surfaces (October 6, 2014). Home care and hospice providers do not control their environment.
  • Reassure staff by giving them the facts on Ebola. Share your mission to keep them safe while they provide patient care. Have a communication plan for your staff and patients.
  • Review and update policies such as your pandemic plan, influenza protocols, and monitoring staff that may have been exposed. Don’t forget to include the intake process of new patients. All new patients, and the referral source, should be asked questions following the CDC algorithm. Is the patient symptomatic, if so, what are the symptoms? Then obtain a travel history of the patient, family, and friends. If the answers meet the CRITERIA for possible Ebola, contact the health department. (9-1-1 dispatchers are being trained to handle these possible transports.)
  • Check your supplies of ppe. If they are outdated- DO NOT USE. The integrity may be compromised. Order additional supplies including some booties and head coverings. Don’t wait. Remember how quickly health care providers ran out of ppe during the H1N1 pandemic.
  • If a possible Ebola patient (meeting the criteria) is identified during a home visit. The staff should immediately don personal protective equipment and place patient in a room by him or herself. It should preferably be one with a door but this is home care and we may not always have that option. Staff should then call the health department and 9-1-1 explaining the situation and wait for guidance. No one should leave the home until clear guidance has been given. That includes staff.
  • Research your state health department’s website. They all have the most recent information and may have some specifics for your state. Keep your staff informed daily but be sure the information you share is accurate. People are anxious and inaccurate information can spread easily.

As home care and hospice providers, our role is to prevent and control the spread of the Ebola virus while protecting our staff and patients.

USEFUL LINKS: 

General CDC link to INFORMATION FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND SETTINGS

Patient Evaluation:

Protecting Healthcare Workers:

Florida’s 1115 MMA Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) Waiver Amendment

September 25, 2014

The Agency for Health Care Administration (the Agency) is seeking federal authority to amend Florida’s 1115 MMA Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) Waiver (Project Number 11-W-002064) to allow certain populations who were previously excluded from the MMA program to voluntarily enroll.

The proposed amendment will allow for Medicaid-eligible recipients residing in group home facilities licensed under Section 393.067, Florida Statutes, as well as Medicaid-eligible children receiving Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) services to become eligible to voluntarily enroll in Florida’s MMA program, a component of the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care (SMMC) program. This amendment is being submitted to implement Florida Law that allows recipients residing in a group home facility and children receiving PPEC services to voluntarily enroll in Florida’s MMA program upon federal approval.

The proposed amendment will:

  • Ensure continuity of care and allow these group home residents access to expanded benefits offered by the plans;
  • Allow for those children receiving PPEC services and currently enrolled in the Children’s Medical Services Network or another managed care plan to remain in that plan without disruption of services, ensuring their continuity of care and ensuring children will be able to take advantage of the higher plan standards required and the expanded benefits offered by the plans.

The Agency is conducting a 30-day public notice and public comment period that takes place between September 17, 2014 and October 17, 2014.  Please visit the MMA Federal Authorities page for more information on the public meetings, information for submitting comments, and to view a comprehensive description of the waiver amendment request.

The Agency is hosting a public meeting to solicit public input on the amendment of Florida’s 1115 Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) Waiver.   On September 17, 2014, the Agency published the following public meeting notice in the Florida Administrative Register.

The notice invites all interested parties to the public meetings and provides the meeting dates, times, and locations.  Individuals who will be unable to attend the meeting in person can participate via conference call by using the toll free number provided in the FAR notice. During the meetings, the Agency will provide an overview of the provisions in Part IV of Chapter 409, Florida Statutes, related to the MMA program; a description of the amendment request; and time for public comments.

The 1115 MMA Waiver Amendment Public Meeting will be held on

Monday, September 29, 2014; from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Agency for Health Care Administration
6800 North Dale Mabry Highway
Main Training Room
Tampa, FL 33614

Conference Line: 1-888-670-3525

Participant Code: 4201652735 #

Mail comments and suggestions to: 

1115 MMA Waiver Amendment Request
Office of the Deputy Secretary for Medicaid
Agency for Health Care Administration
2727 Mahan Drive, MS #8
Tallahassee, Florida 32308

E-mail comments and suggestions to: FLMedicaidWaivers@ahca.myflorida.com  with “1115 MMA Waiver Amendment Request” referenced in the subject line.

Reference your 2014 Membership Directory online, any time!

September 12, 2014

Your digital edition of the  2014 Membership Directory is always available online, for whenever you need members’ contact information or quick info about home care agencies and facilities. This online version is the same as your print copy.

Click on the image to the right to go to the directory, or click any of the links below to go directly to that section.  2014 Directory Cover

Bookmark the digital directory in your browser or save it to the home screen of your mobile device for quick access any time you need this information.

 

Thank you to our advertisers. Their support helps make this publication possible.

View Past Issues

Florida Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Role in $6 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

August 29, 2014

HCAF strongly condemns healthcare fraud and supports the removal of bad actors from the home health industry.

A co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health LLC was sentenced today to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.2 million in restitution for her participation in a health care fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company .

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Reginald France of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement. U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.

According to court documents, Annarella Garcia, 44, of Hialeah, Florida, was a co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that purported to provide home health and therapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. Between December 2008 and February 2014, Garcia and others engaged in a scheme to bill the Medicare Program for expensive physical therapy and home health care services that were not medically necessary or were not provided. During that time, Professional Medical Home Health was paid approximately $6.25 million by Medicare for the fraudulent claims.

Specifically, Garcia and her co-conspirators paid kickbacks and bribes to patient recruiters in return for their providing patients to Professional Medical Home Health for home health and therapy services that were not medically necessary or were not provided. In furtherance of the scheme, Garcia and her co-conspirators falsified patient documentation to make it appear that beneficiaries qualified for and received home health care services, when, in fact, many of the beneficiaries did not actually qualify for such services and did not receive such services.

Garcia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on June 25, 2014.

The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys A. Brendan Stewart and Anne P. McNamara of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 1,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov .

Source: OIG

Participate in this year’s HCAF Salary & Benefits Survey!

August 20, 2014

salary_survey Blinder

 

For several years now, HCAF has been conducting a salary and fringe benefit survey of the home health industry in Florida. It is our goal to continue helping providers understand how agencies around the state are compensating their employees in order to remain competitive when it comes to recruiting and maintaining staff.  HCAF does this by collecting the data through a secure excel toolkit. Read the rest of this entry »

CMS Announces its Next Home Health, Hospice and DME Open Door Forum – August 20

August 15, 2014

CMS has announced that its next Home Health, Hospice and DME Open Door Forum will be held next Wednesday, August 20. NAHC members are encouraged to note that some key issues will be addressed, including the revised hospice cost report for freestanding agencies.

The link that accompanied the announcement appears to be the second version of the cost report that was issued on November 22, 2013.  It is unclear whether these will be the actual, final cost report forms and instructions for freestanding agencies that CMS has indicated will be required for cost reporting years beginning October 1, 2014, and afterward, or if CMS will release another version that incorporates some of the additional changes that were recommended by the industry during December 2013.

Below is the tentative agenda for CMS Home Health, Hospice and DME Open Door Forum:

I. Opening Remarks

Chair – Randy Throndset, Center for Medicare

Moderator – Jill Darling (OC)

II.  Announcements & Updates

  •   OASIS-C1 webinar, September 3, 2014 @2PM, Survey and Certification letter attached.

§Can be found at: http://www​.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Policy-and-Memos-to-States-and-Regions.html search for OASIS-C1_ICD9

  • FY 2015 Hospice Payment Rate Update Final Rule

§ http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/H​ospice/Hospice-Regulations-and-Notices-Items/CMS-1609-F.html

  • Hospice Cost Report

§  http: //www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewIC?ref_nbr=201312-0938-003&icID=8476

  • Hospice CAHPS Survey

§  http://www.hospicecahpss​urvey.org

  • HHCAHPS (Home Health CAHPS Survey)

§at URL https://homehealthcahps.org

III. Open Q&A

**Next Home Health, Hospice & DME ODF: October 1, 2014

Mailbox: HomeHealth_Hospice_DMEODF-L@cms.hhs.gov

———————————————————————

Open Door Participation Instructions:

This call will be Conference Call Only.

To participate by phone:

Dial: 1-800-837-1935 & Reference Conference ID: 44421630.

Persons participating by phone do not need to RSVP. TTY Communications Relay Services are available for the Hearing Impaired.  For TTY services dial 7-1-1 or 1-800-855-2880. A Relay Communications Assistant will help.

Encore: 1-855-859-2056; Conference ID: 44421630.

Encore is an audio recording of this call that can be accessed by dialing 1-855-859-2056 and entering the Conference ID beginning 2 hours after the call has ended. The recording expires after 2 business days.

For ODF schedule updates and E-Mailing List registration, visit our website at http://www.cms.gov/OpenDoorForums/.

 

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