Must-Read News: Azar Confirmed as HHS Secretary, Big Year for EVV

Happy Monday, Home Health Care News readers. Gear up for your week with our must-read news, and keep reading to check out our top stories from last week.

At the top of the news cycle was that the second secretary of the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week. Alex Azar, a former pharmaceuticals executive, was confirmed in a 55-43 vote, replacing Tom Price, who resigned amid a scandal over his use of private jets at taxpayer expense.

The home care industry, which applauded Tom Price for his role in limiting mandatory alternative payment models and support of in-home care, appeared ready to embrace Azar with open arms.

“We very much look forward to working with Secretary Azar to expand home care and hospice opportunities throughout Medicaid and Medicare,” Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), said in a statement. “The value of community-based care has been repeatedly demonstrated over the years, as well as in many of the current innovations underway. Embracing this high value will improve overall care and bring significant efficiencies to programs under the new Secretary’s command.”

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Electronic visit verification (EVV) requirements are coming, with states enforcing their own timelines for home health care providers. Under the federal 21st Century Cures Act, Medicaid and Medicare-certified providers will have to meet EVV requirements over the next few years, and 2018 is expected to be big year for compliance.

One major home care franchising company, Cincinnati-based FirstLight Home Care, has its sights set on big growth in 2018—up to 60 locations—according to CEO Jeff Bevis, who caught up with HHCN on the company’s latest moves.

Finding quality caregivers is the top challenge most frequently cited by home care providers year after year. As the labor market becomes increasingly competitive, it may come as a surprise that almost all caregivers are open to another job opportunity at any time, according to new data.

Written by Amy Baxter

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Amy Baxter
Assistant Editor at Home Health Care News
When not writing about all things home health, Amy fulfills her lifelong dream of becoming a pirate by sailing in regattas and enjoying rum. Fun fact: she sailed 333 miles across Lake Michigan in the Chicago Yacht Club "Race to Mackinac."

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