The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has written a letter to Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), requesting a delay in the implementation of the new Home Health Conditions of Participation (HHCoP) that are currently scheduled to go into place on January 13, 2018.
CMS issued a final rule delaying the effective date for the rule entitled “Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Conditions of Participation for Home Health Agencies,” published in the Federal Register on January 13, 2017. The published effective date for the final rule was July 13, 2017, and the new rule delayed the effective date for an additional six months until January 13, 2018. NAHC and the rest of the home health community sought an extension on the effective date, as the changes required are extensive and costly. In addition, CMS had yet to issue the Interpretive Guidelines that are essential to proper compliance.
Originally, NAHC requested that the effective date of the new conditions of participation be set six months following the issuance of the interpretive guidelines and one point it appeared possible that the guidelines would be issued in July 2017. However, to date, CMS has yet to publish even the draft guidelines. NAHC’s most recent information is that the guidelines may be out in December. If so, NAHC believes that will not be sufficient time to establish compliance.
As such, home health agencies are severely handicapped in their efforts to comply with the current January 13, 2018 compliance deadlines. Failure to comply because of uncertainties tied to the absence of the guidelines comes at significant cost related to changing operations to conform to the guidelines when they are issued, as well as the potential imposition of Civil Monetary Penalties.
The guidelines are needed to full understand the compliance standards on patient rights, transfer and discharge obligations, and care planning and coordination. In addition, CMS has not clarified how the hundreds of existing HHA subunits can continue to provide care when transitioning to parent or branch status.
Accordingly, NAHC has requested that CMS further extend the effective date of the new conditions of participation to the later date of July 13, 2018 or six months after CMS issues the interpretive guidelines.
Stay tuned to NAHC Report for further developments on this important issue.
Also, don’t forget to check out the vital pre-conference session“The New HHCoPs: Everything You Need to Know,” which will be presented by a panel of the industry’s top experts, at theHome Care and Hospice Expo in Long Beach. Register now!