Home Health Agencies May Get More Time to Prepare for New Rules

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a proposed rule that would delay the effective date of the revised Conditions of Participation (CoP) for home health agencies (HHAs) from July 13, 2017 until January 13, 2018. If finalized, the new effective date would be welcome news for HHAs, many of which reported to CMS that they needed more time to comply with the new rules.

The CoP are the minimum health and safety standards an HHA must meet in order to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The new CoP amend the existing standards in several important respects. For example, under the new CoP, HHAs must provide a more comprehensive patient assessment and a more detailed plan of care; provide written instructions to the patient and caregiver outlining important care information; and ensure that patients with limited English proficiency receive information about how to access language services. The new CoP also amend the personnel qualifications for HHA administrators and clinical managers and revise the rules governing quality assessment, performance improvement and infection control.

In addition, CMS proposed some conforming changes to dates that are included in the regulations. For example, CMS proposed to delay the phase-in date for the performance improvement plans required in the new CoP. CMS had originally provided for a phase-in date of January 13, 2018 in recognition of the additional time it would take HHAs to collect the data necessary to identify areas that are appropriate for performance improvement. CMS has stated that it is still appropriate to phase in the performance improvement project requirements and has suggested July 13, 2018 as the replacement date.

CMS will accept comments on the new effective date until June 2, 2017. Information on how to submit comments may be found in the proposed rule.

For more information on how the new CoP affect HHAs in Connecticut, please contact Karen A. Jeffers (kjeffers@pullcom.com), Margaret A. Bartiromo (mbartiromo@pullcom.com) or Karen P. Wackerman (kwackerman@pullcom.com).