On Wednesday, HCAF Members took to the Florida Capitol in order to lobby the State Legislature to take steps that would improve the home care industry in our state. The group of home health professionals, including a strong team sent by BAYADA Home Health Care, met with over 60 legislators to discuss eliminating or lowering the frequency of the home health quarterly report, raising the Medicaid Private Duty Nursing rate for Licensed Practical Nurses, and making sure any new framework for telemedicine includes home health nurses.
The day ended an a high-note, with the Senate Rules Committee adding an amendment to Senate Bill 1254 that would reduce the frequency of the home health quarterly report to twice per year. While HCAF will continue to seek full elimination of this time-consuming and obsolete report, this cuts the chances of providers missing the deadlines and being fined by half. Last year through their work at Legislative Day, HCAF advocates helped reduce the quarterly report fine from an instant $5,000 to $200 per day. It was these advocates’ meetings with members of the Senate Rules Committee (Senators Thrasher, Galvano, Richter, Simpson, Sobel, Margolis, and Negron) that paved the way for achieving this accomplishment. HCAF would also like to thank Senator Denise Grimsley for adding the measure to her bill. Furthermore, on the same day, both the House and Senate passed versions of the state budget including increases to Medicaid PDN LPN rates. Both chambers will seek to rectify some differences between each version before sending it to Governor Rick Scott for approval.
While we are proud of these accomplishments, we hope to have even more participation next year in order to tackle additional measures to improve home health in Florida! We will work to assist you in keeping close watch of future developments and will look to our members for assistance with increased advocacy in their legislators’ home districts.
In addition, HCAF was honored to have Representative Amanda Murphy (D-New Port Richey) as the keynote speaker at our Annual Legislative Briefing Dinner. Rep. Murphy spent ample time speaking and answering questions from members about the state of healthcare in Florida, how she expects home care to fit in, and effective ways of communicating with legislators. HCAF would like to thank Rep. Murphy for giving us ample time in the middle of her busy legislative session schedule!
HCAF has posted the latest exclusion and reinstatements that were released by CMS’ Office of the Investigator General (OIG) on August 8, 2013. The list includes physicians and other provider types in Florida.
Health care providers must be careful not to make payments to sanctioned entities or employ sanctioned individuals. No payment will be made by any federal health care program for any items or services furnished, ordered, or prescribed by an excluded individual or entity. Federal health care programs include Medicare, Medicaid, and all other plans and programs that provide health benefits funded directly or indirectly by the United States.
The basis for exclusion includes convictions for program-related fraud and patient abuse, licensing board actions and default on Health Education Assistance Loans.
Please compare your referring physicians, employees or vendors against the listing of excluded individuals.
Late last week the House Ways and Means Committee released draft legislation that would significantly alter post-acute care under the Medicare program. Proposals included in the draft legislation range from creating post-acute care bundled payments to establishing a skilled nursing facility (SNF) readmissions program. Of greatest concern to NAHC and its members, however, is a proposal that would reduce market basket updates for all post acute care providers, including home health agencies. The market basket reductions included in the draft legislation were also included in the President’s FY14 budget. The proposal as it is currently written would impose a 1.1 percentage point market basket cut on home health agencies every year between 2014 and 2023.
HCAF & The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) remain committed in its opposition to the home health community having to shoulder a disproportionate share of cuts to the Medicare program, and has already been burdened by $77 billion in cuts over ten years.
If more cuts are made to the Medicare home health program, then Medicare beneficiaries will likely seek care in much more costly care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and emergency rooms.
In April, the Ways and Means Committee announced a series of hearings on reforms to the Medicare system based on recommendations from President Obama’s budget, as well as from the Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin proposals. NAHC submitted testimony to several of these hearings outlining its strong opposition to additional cuts to home healthcare while emphasizing NAHC’s commitment to work with the Ways and Means Committee to find savings though thoughtful and targeted program reforms.
The public is invited to submit their comments to the Ways and Means Committee via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by August 30, 2013. NAHC encourages all of its members and their patients to write to the Ways and Means Committee reiterating their strong opposition to further cuts in home health payments and describing the dire consequences this would have on home health beneficiaries and their caregivers. Members may also wish to comment on the post acute care bundling proposal in the draft legislation. NAHC has taken the position that home health agencies should play the central role in managing any bundled post acute care payments.
For more information on the draft Medicare legislation, please click here.
Florida’s statewide Medicaid managed-care gamble gets officially under way on Thursday, beginning with thousands of the state’s most vulnerable clients: low-income seniors too sick to get by without help.
If all goes according to plan, taxpayers will save money and frail elders will get preventive and well-coordinated care. They’ll have the medical and social support they need to remain in their own homes or in the community, rather than in a nursing home. (more…)
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a temporary and targeted moratorium on the approval of new home health agencies in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. The moratorium takes effect on July 30, 2013.
According to CMS, the goal of the temporary moratoria is to fight fraud and safeguard taxpayer dollars, while ensuring patient access to care. Authority to impose such moratoria was included in the Affordable Care Act, and CMS is exercising this authority for the first time. (more…)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have announced a temporary moratorium on the enrollment of new home health provider enrollments in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in fraud “hot spot” areas of the country. The goal of the temporary moratorium is to fight fraud and safeguard taxpayer dollars, while ensuring patient access to care. Authority to impose such moratoria was included in the Affordable Care Act, and CMS is exercising this authority for the first time. (more…)
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial
If Pearl Buck was right, and “the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members,” Florida got a failing grade this week.
The U.S. Justice Department filed suit Monday against the state, accusing it of violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to do enough to keep children with disabilities in Florida from being sent for care to nursing homes for the elderly. The department’s lawsuit called it “deliberate indifference to the suffering” of those children.
The head of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Liz Dudek, called the lawsuit “disruptive” and accused Washington of wanting to take over the state’s Medicaid and disability programs. Seriously?
The Justice Department says it spent six months investigating the plight of disabled kids in Florida nursing homes before calling on the state last September to do more to give their families the option of care at home or in community-based settings. The department filed suit after concluding that it couldn’t count on the state to comply voluntarily. (more…)
Building on strong anti-fraud efforts already underway, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Administrator Marilyn Tavenner today announced temporary moratoria on the enrollment of new home health provider and ambulance supplier enrollments in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in three fraud “hot spot” areas of the country, including two Florida counties. The goal of the temporary moratoria is to fight fraud and safeguard taxpayer dollars, while ensuring patient access to care. Authority to impose such moratoria was included in the Affordable Care Act, and CMS is exercising this authority for the first time.
Under the moratoria, existing providers and suppliers can continue to deliver and bill for services, but no new provider and supplier applications will be approved in these areas for all three programs. The temporary enrollment moratoria apply to newly-enrolling home health agencies in the Miami and Chicago metropolitan areas; and newly-enrolling ground ambulance suppliers in the Houston metropolitan area (see list of affected counties below). CMS announced the temporary, six-month moratoria in a notice issued today in the Federal Register. (more…)
BAYADA Home Health Care’s Jeanne Barton and Carson Barnes and HCAF’s Kyle Simon met with Rep. Bilirakis to discuss the recent CMS proposed rule, which calls for a 1.5 percent cut Medicare home health reimbursement rates in 2014. The rule also includes a 3.5 percent annual cut over four years to rebase Medicare rates, as required by the Affordable Care Act. The discussion gave industry representatives the opportunity to highlight to Rep. Bilirakis the importance of home health care and the role it plays in offering high quality, cost effective care for more than 300,000 Florida seniors each year.