For owners of home health and hospice organizations of all sizes and scopes, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused financial and operational disruptions that to this day leave many operators facing dire prospects.
The services your home health or hospice organization provides are vital to the health and well-being of patients. Yet, to continue delivering services, you must remain financially and operationally viable, today and tomorrow. COVID-19 has made that unusually difficult, particularly for home health agencies, since many skilled staff aren’t able to conduct site visits, for a number of reasons. The primary consequences of this are:
Making matters more challenging, telehealth care, which is gaining widespread acceptance across the healthcare spectrum, is only reimbursable to the physician if they are an approved Medicare B provider; it does not apply toward meeting an agency’s LUPA threshold. While it is necessary, it is not currently reimbursable for Medicare Home Health. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, telehealth rules for the home health and hospice industry could likely change as well.
So, what are some ways to navigate the current crisis and solidify your home health or hospice agency moving forward?
Consider four initial steps.
Evaluating homebound status of all patients. CMS has redefined the definition of homebound. As a result, some home health agency Medicaid patients who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for homebound status may now qualify under new regulations. Your agency, therefore, may be able to convert some of its Medicaid patients over to Medicare. Since Medicare generally provides agencies with higher reimbursement levels than Medicaid, this could help to potentially offset some lost revenue. In that spirit, review all current patients who do not meet homebound criteria and determine if they could meet Medicare eligibility.
Sequestration adjustment. As of May 1, the 2% sequestration adjustment was removed. Talk to your electronic medical record (EMR) vendor to ensure that your database is set up appropriately for this change. Other payers may follow the same ruling, so it’s wise to double-check.
Review Choice Demonstration (RCD). Agencies can pause their participation. However, we do not recommend this unless it’s completely necessary, since doing so could leave your agency exposed to ADRs.
Requests for Anticipated Payments (RAPs). The auto-cancellation date has been extended. If possible, continue to send your final claims in a timely manner to increase cash flow.
If you’re an owner or operator of a home health or hospice facility, your people – nurses, staff and administrators – are your greatest assets. It’s vitally important, then, that they remain safe, healthy (in body, mind and spirit) and engaged. Yes, your home health or hospice agency should always run lean; but your organization and the patients it serves needs those assets to continue doing the great work they do. It’s up to you to give them the tools and resources that make this possible.
To aid you in promoting financial health for your home health or hospice agency, and to help educate your people on other issues surrounding COVID-19, we have developed a COVID-19 Resource Page which will be regularly updated with the latest information.
Do you have questions about navigating your home health or hospice agency through the COVID-19 crisis, or other home health and hospice clinical challenges? Call Richter’s home health and hospice consultants at 866-806-0799 to schedule a free consultation.
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