- What it is. The final rule affects payments to home health agencies (HHAs) beginning Jan. 1, 2021.
- Why it is important for you. CMS proposes to make updates to the home health payment rates for CY 2021. Specific policy changes include adopting the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) statistical area delineations used in the home health wage index, simplifying conditions of participation requirements for new HHAs, updating payment rates for home infusion therapy services, and establishing Medicare enrollment standards for qualified home infusion therapy suppliers.
Most notably, CMS proposes to make permanent its COVID-19 drive change for home health care providers included in the first COVID-19 interim final rule with comment period (IFC). Specifically, CMS proposes to permanently require that a home health plan of care must include any provision of remote patient monitoring or other services furnished via telecommunications systems, and that the plan of care must include how the use of this technology addresses patient-needs and goals included in the care plan.
A telling line of detail from the agency involves its rationale for making permanent such changes. The agency states “because stakeholders have identified significant up-front costs in incorporating and evaluating various forms of telecommunications systems into home health care, this would allow HHAs to confidently plan for the continued inclusion telecommunications systems under the Medicare home health benefit and increase the tools available to promote patient involvement…”
In short, to encourage providers to implement telehealth solutions as a means for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS is proposing to make the temporary flexibilities permanent so providers can realize the benefits of these upfront costs in the long-run. This line of thinking may speak more generally to the agency’s overall perspective on these telehealth flexibilities across provider types, suggesting the agency may take a similar approach where it is able to under current regulatory authority.
- Potential next steps. Comments on the proposed rule must be received no later than 5:00pm ET on August 20, 2020.