Home Health Agencies will now have an additional 6 months to comply with a new CMS rule intended to advance the quality of patient care.
CMS published a final rule on July 10th delaying the effective date for its rule addressing conditions of participation for home health agencies. CMS has moved the effective date of the rule back 6 months from its original July 13, 2017 to January 13, 2018. This delay pushes back the implementation of regulations primarily focused on improving patient quality of care.
Under the new rule Home Health Agencies are directed to begin implementing data-driven performance improvement projects. These data-driven programs are concentrated on quality assessment programs targeting indicators related to improved outcomes for patients and other quality indicators across the home health spectrum of care. This quality program requirement is now set to phase-in on July 13, 2018 instead of January 13, 2018.
The CMS rule also requires administrators employed by a Home Health Agency to meet additional personnel requirements. These requirements for administrators will now be effective January 13, 2018. CMS also noted that any Home Health Agency administrators hired prior to January 13, 2018 will be exempted from the rule, and will not have to meet the additional personnel obligations.
The rule, first proposed by the Obama administration, drew a wealth of commentary from the Home Health industry. The industry itself spans nearly 12,600 Medicare and Medicaid participating Home Health Agencies covering about 5 million Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. After its proposal, commentators strongly expressed the need to have the effective date moved back in order to address implementation concerns, noting a need to “adjust resource allocation, staffing, and potentially even infrastructure.”
The Home Health industry will now have the time requested to ensure they are able to efficiently provide quality improvements to their patient population.