Press release

CMS Takes Action to Modernize Medicare Home Health

CMS Takes Action to Modernize Medicare Home Health
Administrator Verma: “Today’s rule overhauls how Medicare pays for home health, refocusing on the needs of patients, promoting innovation, and reducing burden for physicians and home health providers.”

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized significant changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System to strengthen and modernize Medicare. Specifically, CMS made changes to improve access to solutions via remote patient monitoring technology, updated payments for home health care with a new case-mix system, begin the new home infusion therapy benefit, and reduce burden.

“This home health final rule focuses on patient needs and not on the volume of care,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.  “This rule also innovates and modernizes home health care by allowing remote patient monitoring. We are also proud to offer new home infusion therapy services.  Using new technology and reducing unnecessary reporting measures for certifying physicians will result in an annual cost savings and provide home health agencies (HHAs) and doctors what they need to give patients a personalized treatment plan that will result in better health outcomes.”

Beginning with calendar year (CY) 2020, CMS is implementing changes required by law, including a new case-mix system called the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) that puts the focus on patient needs rather than volume of care. The PDGM relies more heavily on patient characteristics to more accurately pay for home health services. Changes in data collection under the new case-mix system, coupled with the changes below regarding meaningful measures and the Home Health Quality Reporting Program, will reduce burden for HHAs by approximately $60 million annually, beginning in CY 2020. 

CMS is promoting innovation and modernization of home health care by allowing the cost of remote patient monitoring to be reported by home health agencies as allowable costs on the Medicare cost report form. This is expected to help foster the adoption of emerging technologies by home health agencies and result in more effective care planning, as data are shared among patients, their caregivers and their providers. The use of such technology can allow for greater patient independence and empowerment. Supporting patients in sharing their data will advance the MyHealthEData initiative, led by Jared Kushner and the White House Office of American Innovation.

This final rule implements the temporary transitional payments for home infusion therapy services for CYs 2019 and 2020, as required by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, until the new permanent home infusion therapy services benefit begins on January 1, 2021.  In addition, the final rule establishes the health and safety standards for qualified home infusion therapy suppliers of the new permanent home infusion therapy service benefit.  The final rule also establishes the approval and oversight process for accrediting organizations of these suppliers as required by the 21st Century Cures Act. We are finalizing our proposal and also seeking further comments on our interpretation of “infusion drug administration calendar day” and on its potential effects on access to care.

CMS is eliminating the requirement that the certifying physician estimate how much longer home health services are needed when recertifying the need for continued home health care.  This results in an estimated reduction in burden for physicians of $14.2 million, annually, and would allow physicians to spend more time with patients rather than on unnecessary paperwork.

The final rule helps advance CMS’s Comprehensive Meaningful Measures Initiative. CMS is removing seven Home Health Quality Reporting Program measures. As noted above, changes in data collection under the new case-mix system, coupled with the changes from these seven measure removals, will reduce burden for HHAs by approximately $60 million annually, beginning in CY 2020.

The final rule can be downloaded from the Federal Register athttps://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2018-24145.pdf 

For a fact sheet on today’s final rule, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-finalizes-calendar-year-2019-and-2020-payment-and-policy-changes-home-health-agencies-and-home.

For additional information about the Home Health Prospective Payment System, visit https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/HomeHealthPPS/index.html and https://www.cms.gov/center/provider-Type/home-Health-Agency-HHA-Center.html.

For additional information about the Home Health Quality Reporting Program, visit https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/HomeHealthQualityInits/Home-Health-Quality-Reporting-Requirements.html.

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