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NAHC Kicks Off 26th Annual Meeting In Denver

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice kicked off its 26th annual conference and expo at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. President Val Halamandaris and Chairman Elaine Stephens welcomed members and guests to the opening general session.

Bob Fazzi of Fazzi Associates gave us a quick overview on the National Telehealth Study conducted by Fazzi, NAHC, and Philips corporation. I’ll give you more details on the study in a later posting.

As always, the NAHC leadership team did a great job of giving us an update on what’s going on in the industry. Here are some highlights, with more to follow:

Theresa Forster, Vice President for Policy, Yvonne Santa Anna, Director of Government Affirst for the U.S. House, and Jeff Kincheloe, Director of Government Affairs for the U.S. Senate, gave us updates on the legislative issues they are addressing. The big concerns are proposed cuts in Medicare Reimbursement. According to Jeff, if the proposed cuts are passed, by 2011 over 50% of home health agencies in the country will be losing money on their Medicare patients.

One concern had been the SCHIP program which President Bush just vetoed. It sounds like the House and Senate are working 0n a new bill that would use an increase in Cigarette taxes to fund SCHIP instead of taking money away from other healthcare providers. We’ll watch to see where this goes.

Janet Neigh,Vice President for Hospice Programs, told us that there are no reimbursement cuts on the horizon for Hospice, but the sector is in the crosshairs of congress because of the rapid growth of hospice, and because of the increase in the number of Hospice patients with longer lengths of service. MEDPAC wants to gather more data from Hospices about the costs of providing care. NAHC has proposed a pilot study to determine what data to gather, and the processe by which Hospices can reasonably gather the data.

Janet also discussed a QAPI project involving a patient and family member satisfaction tool being developed in conjunction with the Yale University School of Public Health. NAHC will be collecting this satisfaction data and creating industry benchmarks.

Mary St. Pierre, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs told us that as of January 1, 2008, all home health agencies will need to be using their NPI – National Provider Identifier. Also, CMS has written regulations requiring agencies to pay a provider fee when it is necessary for the Medicare Surveyor from your state to make a re-survey visit. Ror Off-site resurvey’s, the fee will be $168 for ll providers. For on-site re-survey visits, the fee will be $1613 for home health agencies, and $1736 for Hospice.

Amanda Thomas, Director of Research, introduced us to some new reasearch projects that NAHC is conducting to support our legislative work. There will also be additional research information made available to members online. I’d like to encourage all of you who are reading this to participate in research projects when requested. The more data we have available, the more we can do to influence good decisions and sound policy for home health care and hospice.

Bill Dombi, Esq, Vice President for Law, gave us updates on three major issues he’s working on:

1. Oversight and Enforcement.

There are four major efforts here.

  • Home Health Agency re-enrollment in Houston and Los Angeles. Because of the huge proliferation of new agencies, CMS is going back and requiring all agencies in these two areas to go through the Medicare enrollment process again.
  • HomeHealth Outlier payments in Miami. Data from CMS shows that a huge percentage of all outlier payments made to home health agencies are made to agencies in Miami/Dade county in Florida.
  • Home Infusion demonstration project in Florida
  • Claims oversight by Program Safeguard Contractors.

2. Overtime Compensation.

NAHC filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Long Island Home Care v. Coke case. The Court rule 9-0 in favor of Long Island Home Care, saying that home care aides are exempt from overtime under the federal companion exemption. Now, we’re seeing new litigation at the state level, and the SEIU is working to change state laws on overtime.

3. Case Mix Creep

CMS is taking action to control what they are calling “Case Mix Creep”, and NAHC is preparing a law suit to address the issue, contending that is not what congress intended when they wrote the current law. More on this to follow.

Stay tuned to this site as we send you continuing updates from the NAHC conference.

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