Section: Breaking News
Federal Budget Release: Overview of the President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal
The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America Announce Collaboration to Support Research, Education and Quality Improvement Initiatives
Two leading home health care organizations launch joint effort to strengthen home health care for providers, patients, and taxpayers.
VNAA Congratulates 54 Members Named to 2015 HomeCare Elite
The HomeCare Elite is an annual compilation of the most successful home care providers in the United States. This market-leading review, from OCS HomeCare by National Research Corporation and DecisionHealth, names the top 25 percent of agencies in home health performance measures. The HomeCare Elite also recognizes the Top 100 and Top 500 providers nationwide.

Please join VNAA in congratulating the 46 VNAA members named to this year's list:
CMS Cuts Payment Rates, Jeopardizing Access to Home Health While Seeking to Advance Quality and Value
Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released two regulations that will have a significant impact on home health agencies in 2016: The final 2016 home health payment rule and a proposed rule to revise discharge planning requirements.
CMS Releases Home Health Payment Rule; Discharge Planning & Medicaid Access to Care Rules
Congress Holds Hearings on Face-to-Face Medicare Documentation Requirements and Improper Payments
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Health held a hearing last week titled, "Examining Potential Ways to Improve the Medicare Program." The Subcommittee Members reviewed three Medicare bills, including a draft bill that would address the face-to-face Medicare documentation requirements facing home health providers.
CMS Releases Final Hospice Payment Rule; Moves Forwards with Most Updates
Last week, CMS released the final FY 2016 hospice payment rule. CMS will implement the new Routine Home Care rates and the Service Intensity Add-On (SIA) payment for Jan. 1, 2016. CMS made several adjustments to its original proposal, including delaying the payment update for three months to allow state Medicaid programs time to align their systems to the changes and allowing skilled nursing facilities to receive the SIA payment adjustments.
CMS Releases Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings; VNAA Members Exceed National Performance
Last week, CMS posted the first set of Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings as part of Home Health Compare. VNAA members performed very well, with 42 members receiving four or more stars. This represents 41 percent of all VNAA members eligible to receive star ratings. Comparatively, only 26 percent of all eligible HHAs nationally received four or more stars.
VNAA Commends 42 Members for Top Performance on Home Health Compare Star Ratings
Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings to its Home Health Compare database, a service on the Medicare.gov website that helps consumers make informed choices about where to seek care. Nationally, 9,359 home health agencies met the criteria to receive a rating, of which 26.3 percent received four or more stars. Comparatively, 41.2 percent of listed members of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) received these top marks.
Proposed Payment Rule Slashes Payments to Home Health Providers Jeopardizing Access to Care
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released yesterday the "CY 2016 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update; Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model; and Home Health Quality Reporting Requirements." The regulation, if codified, would implement a 1.8 percent (or $350 million) pay cut, new quality measures, and a value-based payment pilot for home health providers. The rate cut is a result of continued rebasing of home health rates, adjustments due to case-mix coding intensity growth unrelated to changes in patient acuity, and adjustments due to productivity.
VNAA Launches Education@VNAA, a Continuing Education Resource for Home Health and Hospice Professionals
Visiting Nurse Associations of America is pleased to announce the launch of Education@VNAA, an all new, on-demand continuing education and online learning resource for home health and hospice professionals.
CMS Releases FY 2016 Proposed Home Health Payment Rule with Value-based Purchasing Program
Today CMS released the FY 2016 Home Health proposed payment rule. As anticipated, the rule proposes to establish a value-based purchasing program for home health providers in 2016.
Peg Terry, Vice President of Quality, Departs VNAA
On July 10, Margaret “Peg” Terry will end her tenure as VNAA’s Vice President of Quality to begin a new position at the National Quality Forum (NQF). During her time at VNAA, Peg oversaw the publication of two editions of the VNAA Clinical Procedure Manual, and spearheaded the development of two landmark VNAA initiatives in recent years, the VNAA Manual for Hospice and Palliative Care and the award-winning VNAA Blueprint for Excellence.
Sens. Menendez and Roberts Introduce F2F Legislation
Sens. Menendez and Roberts have introduced legislation into the Senate that provides a real solution to the challenges faced by home health providers. The legislation provides common-sense fixes to Medicare documentation problems and much needed relief to the documentation of a face-to-face visit. The legislation provides relief from past claims denials and improves the approach CMS uses to collect evidence that beneficiaries are eligible for home health services moving forward.
VNAA Blueprint for Excellence: Hospice and Palliative Care Wins DecisionHealth's Case in Point Platinum Award
DecisionHealth today selected the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) Blueprint for Excellence: Hospice and Palliative Care for its prestigious Case in Point Platinum Award in the category of Case Management Specialty Programs: Home Care and Hospice/Palliative Care Programs.
CMS Releases FY 2016 Hospice Payment Rule with Significant Changes to Routine Home Care Rate
On Thursday, May 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Fiscal Year 2016 Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update and Hospice Quality Reporting Requirements proposed rule. The rule proposes a number of changes to the way in which hospice payment rates are calculated and updated. The most significant change is to propose two routine home care day rates to account for more costly days at the beginning of a hospice stay. It also proposes changes to the Hospice Quality Reporting Program and would implement new coding requirements to better enable CMS to track and monitor Medicare spending outside of the hospice benefit for individuals enrolled in hospice.
VNAA Welcomes Six New Members to Board of Directors and Names New Officers
At its 33rd Annual Meeting in New Orleans, La. last week, the Visiting Nurse Associations of America's (VNAA) membership voted to approve six new Board of Directors members, representing a variety of nonprofit home-based care providers and healthcare industry partners.
VNAA Names 2015 National Award Winners in Ceremony at 33rd Annual Meeting
The Visiting Nurse Associations of America honored the winners of its 2015 National Awards Program at a ceremony last week during the 33rd Annual Meeting. The ceremony was hosted by Awards Committee Chair Theresa Santoro, President and CEO of Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, and featured a personalized video about each award winner, available below.
CMS Clarifies Documentation Rules
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a policy clarification on the required documentation to support certification for home health services, which includes the face-to-face encounter, homebound status, and need for skilled services. CMS acknowledged that it provided inaccurate information on its last call related to Medicare documentation and the draft standardized templates. CMS clarified that it will allow HHAs to provide documentation for incorporation into the patient's record, which can then be used to substantiate that the individual is eligible for home health services.
SGR Offset Bill Introduced; Includes Rural Add-On and Surety Bond Modifications
Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means Committees today introduced H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act , to permanently replace Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The agreement builds upon H.R. 1470, the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act , to replace the SGR formula.
SGR Deal to Impact Home Health and Hospice
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are negotiating a deal to permanently replace Medicare's Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. With only a few legislative days left before the SGR patch expires and physician payment cuts kick in, House leadership worked through the weekend to replace the SGR and include other so-called "Medicare extenders," such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). VNAA is working in partnership with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (Partnership) to insure that the 3 percent additional payment to rural home health providers is included in the extenders package.
CMS Releases Report on Quality Measurements Showing Improvement from Providers
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a review of its quality reporting programs that cites broad and significant improvement from providers since 2006. CMS Deputy Administrator Patrick Conway writes in a blog post that the report will be used to refine "quality measurement strategies, better understand the measures that have worked well and guide the development and application of measures going forward."
Visiting Nurse Associations of America Releases Second Edition of Case Study Compendium
Today the Visiting Nurses Association of America (VNAA) released the second edition of the VNAA Case Study Compendium: Innovative Models for the Evolving Home Health and Hospice Industry, a collection of innovative programs from across its membership of nonprofit home health and hospice providers. This compendium consists of 14 VNAA member case studies highlighting successful methods and techniques nonprofits conducted in clinical, business and financial operations to match quality outcomes for patients with overall performance.
CMS Revises Approach to Star Ratings
CMS Announces Intent to Move Majority of Medicare Reimbursement to Value-based Payments Beginning in 2016
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) is considering developing a voluntary paper clinical template that could be completed by physicians during their face-to-face examination of a Medicare patient. Once a physician completes the template, the resulting document would become a progress note or clinic note that would be part of the medical record. CMS is seeking public comment on this voluntary paper clinical template. CMS is also developing an electronic clinical template
VNAA Accepting Nominations for Nonprofit Industry Research Database Advisory Board
VNAA seeks thirteen dynamic leaders to join the Advisory Board for the Nonprofit Industry Research Database. The Advisory Board will consist of fifteen members appointed by the President and Board-level representatives to the Advisory Board. The current Board-level representatives are Joseph Scopelliti, CEO, VNA Health System and Timothy Veach, Intermountain Healthcare. Mr. Scopelliti will serve as Advisory Board Chair and Mr. Veach will serve as Vice-Chair. At-large Research Database Advisory Board seats are open to VNAA affiliate member representatives and other recognized research experts and industry partners.
VNAA Files Comments on Proposed Home Health Conditions of Participation
Last week, VNAA submitted to CMS comments on the proposed Home Health Conditions of Participation. In general, VNAA agrees with the need for updated CoPs for home health agencies (HHA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) emphasis on high quality, patient-centered and safe care. Many of the changes proposed in the regulation align with recommendations that VNAA and its members have long-supported. However, VNAA expressed concerns to CMS on several provisions and sought additional clarification on others. Our primary concern relates to the sharing of clinical summaries when a patient is either discharged or transferred to the care of another provider.
VNAA Urges Ways and Means Draft to Include Home Health Provisions
VNAA submitted comments on Friday to the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) on the Hospitals Improvements for Payment (HIP) Act of 2014 discussion draft. Rep. Brady unveiled the draft legislation, focusing on comprehensive Medicare reform, in late November seeking stakeholder input.

Title I of the discussion draft has a number of provisions that seek to improve the Recovery Audit Program in response to the high rate of claim denials and backlog of appeals. VNAA encouraged that the draft also apply the same provisions to the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs). VNAA requested that the legislation to address the specific context of home health agencies.
Visiting Nurse Associations of America and National Research Corporation Launch Partnership to Help Drive Research and Advocacy Efforts for VNAA Members
Today, the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) and OCS HomeCare by National Research Corporation announced a partnership to develop a comprehensive research database to provide evidence-based information to assist in research and advocacy efforts. The VNAA Nonprofit Industry Research Database will provide VNAA and its members a broad perspective of quality, service utilization, financial, and outcomes performance allowing insight into the unique value VNAA members bring to their communities and the home-based care market.