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January 25, 2018

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CMS Publishes Final Rule for Home Health Agencies

January 25, 2017:

On January 9, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it had finalized its revisions to the conditions of participation (CoP) for home health agencies. Effective July 13, 2017, HHAs must meet these minimum health and safety standards to qualify for participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The standards revise all of the existing CoPs and add new ones. In general, the revisions aim to put the patient front and center while easing administrative burdens that do not positively affect patient care. Below are the final revisions CMS highlights:

  • A CoP must detail patient rights and how agencies must ensure them.
  • A more comprehensive patient assessment must consider all aspects of patient well-being.
  • HHAs need to provide patients and their caregivers with written information about their care, such as the contact information for a clinical manager, dates of upcoming visits, instructions for medications and for self-administered care, and treatments.
  • Agencies must have an integrated communication system that identifies patient needs and makes sure they are addressed. It also must coordinate care within and outside of the HHAs.
  • A licensed clinician needs to oversee all patient care services, including coordinating referrals and constantly evaluating plans of care.
  • Agencies must have a quality assessment and performance improvement (QAPI) program that relies on data and continually reviews patient care.
  • HHAs must implement standard infection control and instruct the patient and caregiver in infection control.
  • Skilled professional services must focus on appropriate care and supervision agency-wide.
  • Agency administrators and clinical managers must meet new personnel qualifications.

The final rule can be accessed online at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-00283.pdf.


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