In mid-January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published a home health agency final rule outlining new minimum standards for home health agencies participating in Medicare and Medicaid.
The new rule, which includes revised training requirements for staff on competent care standards and patient rights, was supposed to take effect this summer, on July 13, 2017, but last week the CMS proposed to delay the effective date for six months, until January 13, 2018.
The CMS said the proposal was made after it was clear from rule comments that industry stakeholders needed more time to comply, including making necessary adjustments to resource allocation, staffing and perhaps infrastructure.
According to Modern Healthcare, the CMS believes it will cost home health agencies $293 million for compliance in the first year of the rule being in effect and $290 million each year after that.
The final rule sets standards for improving how information is communicated to patients and caregivers about services provided, more effective coordination between home healthcare providers and other medical providers, and more.
The final rule states that requirements "focus on a patient-centered, data-driven, outcome-oriented process that promotes high quality patient care at all times for all patients."
Make sure your home health agency is in compliance
It's more important than ever for home health care agencies to be in compliance with federal law. As the baby boomer generation ages and more people are becoming reliant on home health care, these agencies are being more closely monitored for non-compliance.
In fact, the Department of the Office of the Inspector General has called out home health agencies as being especially susceptible to Medicare and Medicaid fraud. After the new rule takes effect, it is likely that the federal government will be cracking down hard on potential fraud in the industry.