White House Delays Home Health Rule Change Until 2018


Updated home health requirements under Medicare and Medicaid, including minimum health and safety standards, won't take effect until early next year.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a final rule (RIN:0938-AG81) released July 7 pushed back the effective date of home health providers’ conditions of participation by six months, from July 13, 2017, to Jan. 13, 2018. The updated conditions of participation were originally published in January 2017 by the Obama administration and were the first rewrite of the standards for home health providers since 1989.

The requirements will affect the nearly 12,600 Medicare- and Medicaid-participating home health agencies in the U.S., which serve more than 5 million Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The CMS acknowledged that the new conditions of participation “contain numerous changes that require time for planning, testing, training, and implementation. In order to assure that [home health agencies] have adequate time for all preparation activities, we are finalizing the proposed 6 month delay.”

Industry reaction to the delay has been mostly positive. “We are pleased with the CMS's action,” William Dombi, vice president for law at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) in Washington, told me July 7. “This is a very significant rule for home health agencies, and they just need more time to implement these changes.” Dombi is a Bloomberg BNA advisory board member.

The American Hospital Association applauded the CMS in an email to me July 7 for “giving home health agencies a longer timetable for implementing the requirements in the updated Home Health Agency Conditions of Participation. This will help ensure that home health agencies, especially smaller organizations, have the time needed to meet the many new regulations required of them.”

Joy Cameron, vice president of policy and innovation at the Visiting Nurse Associations of America in Arlington, Va., told me she was happy with the six-month delay, but stressed the need for more clarifying guidance for home health agencies.

Regarding the delay, she said: “This is as good as we're going to get.”

Read my full article here.

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