CMS to Delay New Home Health Agency Rule

CMS is proposing a six-month delay for implementation of the new final home health agency rule.  CMS is seeking to change the effective date of the rule from July 13, 2017 to January 13, 2018.

The new rule updates the conditions of participation for federal Medicare and joint federal-state Medicaid programs.  The conditions add operational requirements to enhance integration and coordination of patient care.  The regulation aims to improve the continuity of care through the agencies and the patient’s physicians.  Additional requirements include written instructions for caregivers and patients.

CMS estimates that about 12,600 home health agencies serve 5 million patients in their homes providing physical and occupational therapy, skilled nursing care and assistance with activities of daily living.  CMS estimates compliance to cost agencies $293 million in the first year and $290 million annually thereafter.

When they go into effect the new regulations will significantly affect home health agency operations.  Additions to the conditions of participation include an agency quality assessment and improvement program (QAPI); new training for staff competency and a designated licensed clinician with responsibility for referrals and other services.

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