Home Health Industry Applauds Bill to Increase Hospice Surveys

Legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that calls for greater survey frequency for hospices has garnered applause from home health industry advocates. 

The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, which passed the House on September 16, includes provisions mandating that all hospices are surveyed, at a minimum, once every three years.

The bill also corrects a legislative drafting error that has kept the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from implementing authority granted under the Affordable Care Act to conduct medical reviews of hospice providers with a high proportion of long-stay patients. 

Industry groups such as the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), and its affiliate Hospice Association of America, have overwhelmingly voiced praise for the legislation put forth by Congressmen Tom Reed (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), along with additional efforts from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). 

“NAHC applauds the efforts of Chairmen Wyden and Camp, as well as those of Congressmen Reed and Thompson, for their foresight and leadership in working to realize these important changes,” said NAHC President Val Halamandaris in a statement. 

Provisions regarding survey frequency and medical reviews of hospice providers were first proposed in legislation introduced by Congressmen Reed and Thompson, as the Hospice Opportunities for Supporting Patients with Integrity and Care Evaluations (HOSPICE) Act, H.R. 5393. 

The greater frequency of surveys is financed by a change in the way in which the annual update to the hospice cap is calculated, NAHC noted. 

“NAHC has an extensive track record of support for legislation to increase the frequency and effectiveness of hospice surveys,” Halamandaris said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on this issue.”

While the IMPACT Act of 2014 has already passed the House, NAHC anticipates Senate passage in the near future. 

Also applauding the efforts on Capitol Hill is the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, an industry trade group dedicated to improving the integrity, quality and efficiency of home healthcare for the nation’s senior population. 

“Consistent and comparable data collection on patient assessment and outcomes is key to this outcome and, along with patient-centered post-acute care bundling, holds great promise in reducing costs and improving outcomes for the sustainable preservation of the Medicare program,” stated Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership.

In addition to the IMPACT Act, the group also supports other pieces of legislation that strive to improve the quality of care and life for homebound seniors who rely on skilled home health care services, including the Bundling and Coordinating Post-Acute Care (BACPAC) Act of 2014, H.R. 4673. 

Introduced by Representatives Tom Price (R-GA) and David McKinley (R-WV), BACPAC would establish bundled payments for post-acute care services covered by Medicare and ensure patients are receiving post-acute care in the most cost-efficient setting.

“Much like the IMPACT Act, the BACPAC Act offers patient centered solutions to reform Medicare and improve quality and care coordination for Medicare beneficiaries,” stated Berger. “We thank Congress for its continued diligence in improving healthcare for our seniors.”

Written by Jason Oliva