Legislative Update: December 10, 2019

Independence at Home Demonstration Program to be Extended: On December 6th, the Senate Finance Committee released its update bipartisan Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act of 2019 and announced an agreement on funding for critical, expiring health care programs (known colloquially as “extenders”). While the agreement on these extenders still has to be voted on in both the Senate and House, an agreement on an extenders package in the Finance Committee is a major step forward. Included in the package are:

  • Permanent extension of the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration
  • Permanent extension of the Protection for Medicaid Recipients of Home and Community-Based Services Against Spousal Impoverishment
  • A 3-year extension of the Independence at Home demonstration program
MedPAC recommends no Hospice Payment Update: MedPAC had their December meeting last week. MedPAC recommended that the hospice payment rate get no update from FY2020 in FY2021 (as it stands in current law, hospices would get a 2.8% update) and that the hospice aggregate cap be cut by 20% and be wage adjusted. MedPAC estimates that no update + the changes to the cap would have the overall impact of a -3% cut but feel that recommending the adjustment in this manner is more targeted. MedPAC Commissioners had a robust conversation on differences in length of stay related to diagnosis and the potential impact of proposed changes on rural hospice providers. An article by LeadingAge is here.

Hospices Invited to Participate in Test of CMS HOPE Assessment Tool. CMS contractor Abt Associates is currently recruiting hospice providers to participate in initial testing of the new hospice patient assessment instrument, Hospice Outcomes & Patient Evaluation (HOPE). Data collection is will begin in February 2020. The detailed recruitment announcement with additional information about the alpha test is available on CMS’s Hospice QRP Provider Engagement Opportunities webpage (end of page). Applications submitted through the HOPE alpha test participation application are due by 12/20/19

Opportunity to Join VNAA Clinical Committee: In keeping with VNAA’s tradition of promoting collaborative improvement in home health and hospice practice, VNAA is convening a Clinical Committee; senior clinical leaders of VNAA/ElevatingHome member organizations are invited to join. The Committee is a forum for home health and hospice member to engage in dialogue, problem solve, and share effective strategies. It is co-chaired by Kathy Peirce President, Executive Director, and Chief Nursing Officer of VNA of Care New England and Lynda Tanner, President and CEO, Visiting Nurse & Hospice. The Committee will set clinical goals for VNAA, provide insights on members’ educational needs, clinical policy and quality issues, and oversee special projects. The Committee will meet monthly by video-enabled conference call. For information or to volunteer, contact Liza Greenberg, RN, MPH, Senior Clinical Consultant.

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