Monday, August 3, 2015

CMS Final Rule Implements New Payment Structure for Hospice

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the FY2016 Hospice Wage Index Final Rule on Friday, July 31, 2015.  Payment reform, which includes a two-tiered routine home care (RHC) rate and a service intensity add-on payment are two major components cited in the rule which represent the first significant changes to hospice payment methodology since the Medicare hospice benefit went into effect in 1983.

NHPCO is supportive of the proposal for a new payment structure and believes that payment of a higher rate during the first 60 days of care reflects the service intensity identified by CMS and its contractors in claims data.

Payment Reform: The two-tiered payment model for RHC days will be implemented on January 1, 2016. Hospices will be paid a higher rate for the first 60 days of hospice care and a lower rate for subsequent days in hospice care.  

Service Intensity Add-On Payment:  A service intensity add-on (SIA) payment, also effective January 1, 2016, will be made for patients receiving visits conducted by an RN or social worker during the last week of life when patients and families typically have more intensive needs.

CMS will calculate and make the appropriate SIA payment based on a retrospective review, after a patient’s death, of hospice claims for the last seven days of the patient’s life. The SIA payment will be equal to the continuous home care hourly rate, multiplied by the amount of direct patient care provided by an RN or social worker for up to a total of four hours per day. 

The SIA payment applies to any hospice patient in the last seven days of life, regardless of length of stay.  For patients with a short length of stay in hospice, the SIA payment will help to mitigate the marginally higher costs associated with short lengths of stay.

In addition, the new rule will provide for a 1.6 percent rate increase for hospice providers in FY2016.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Pediatric Resource Helps Focus Attention on Children’s Unmet Needs

A new report released by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides insight into the care needs of young people who might benefit from pediatric palliative/hospice care.  These are children with chronic, complex and/or life-limiting conditions.

The 11-page report, “NHPCO Facts and Figures: Pediatric Palliative and Hospice Care in America,” can help hospice and palliative care providers—as well as policymakers, funders and the media—to better understand both the current challenges and the unmet needs of children and their families across the country.

Pediatric palliative/hospice care provides children and their families with high quality, compassionate, and consistent care delivered through the collaborative efforts of an interdisciplinary team. PP/HC may be provided along with concurrent disease-modifying therapy and can transition to be the main focus of care when disease-modifying therapy is no longer effective and comfort becomes a priority.
Due to the complexity of care involved, children with life-threatening conditions and complex chronic conditions are likely to benefit from PP/HC services. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the number of children with special health care needs in increasing. Overall, 15.1 percent of U.S. children ages 0 – 17 (11.2 million children) are in this category.

Download the report and access additional resources on pediatric hospice and palliative care at www.nhpco.org/pediatrics.

 
 

Friday, July 24, 2015

2015 Circle of Life Award® Honorees

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the National Hospice Foundation honor the recipients of the 2015 Circle of Life Award® and Citation of Honor. Care Dimensions in Danvers, Mass. is the recipient of the prestigious Circle of Life Award for 2015. Hospice of Frederick County in Frederick, Md., has earned a Citation of Honor.

The award celebrates innovation in end-of-life care and the two programs honored this year demonstrate a commitment to providing palliative care services within the continuum of care along with outreach to traditionally underserved communities. 

“The opportunity to learn from innovators in our field benefits all organizations providing hospice and palliative care services and the Circle of Life Award is a significant way for us to spotlight those innovative providers,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO and NHF president and CEO.  “These programs, who are both NHPCO members, serve as models for us all as we move forward in our shared goal of providing the highest quality of care for all those facing serious and life-limiting illness and we applaud Care Dimensions and hospice of Frederick County.”

The awards were presented at a ceremony at the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) annual summit in San Francisco on July 24.

Since 2000, the Circle of Life Award has honored programs that demonstrate excellence and innovation in palliative and end-of-life care. Further information about the honorees and the Circle of Life Award is available at www.aha.org/circleoflife.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hospice Demonstration Sites Announced for Medicare Care Choices Model

Today, CMS announced the names of 141 organizations that will serve as demonstration sites for its Medicare Care Choice Model (MCCM). This list is available on the CMS website.

CMS originally anticipated selecting 30 Medicare-certified hospices for the project but given the overwhelming interest from the U.S. hospice community, the list of MCCM demonstration sites grew to over 140, many of which are NHPCO members. This will enable the model to provide care for up to 150,000 Medicare or dually eligible beneficiaries over the five year period.

The MCCM is an initiative developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to explore ways to improve care options for beneficiaries by allowing greater flexibility and choice “in deciding between hospice care and curative treatment, when faced with life-limiting illness.” 

With the intention of improving Medicare beneficiaries’ quality of care and patient and family satisfaction, the MCCM will provide a new option for beneficiaries with advanced cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and HIV/AIDS who meet hospice eligibility requirements under the Medicare hospice benefit, to receive palliative care services from  the hospice providers who have been chosen to participate in the model while concurrently receiving services provided by their curative care providers.

- See the complete NHPCO press release.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Call to Action: Contact legislators to support hospice

All supporters of hospice care in the U.S. are encouraged to contact their legislators July 14 through 16, 2015, as part of the hospice community's annual legislative event on Capitol Hill.

On July 14, nearly 300 Hospice Advocates, representing 48 states and districts, and every discipline in the Interdisciplinary Team, are in Washington, DC, visiting more than 400 Congressional offices to call for support of hospice.

Individuals across the country also can make a tangible difference for hospices by participating from their homes across the nation. Hospice Action Network and NHPCO are encouraging all hospice supporters to call their Members of Congress and take specific actions that will not only benefit the hospice community but allow hospices to better serve the people for which they care.   

Advocates will be asking their Senators to support The Care Planning Act of 2015 (S 1549) designed to give people with serious illness the freedom to make more informed choices about their card, and the power to have those choices honoured. Additionally, Senators will be asked to join the Sign-on Letter written by Senators Roberts and Warner that calls for CMS to test hospice payment changes that were included in the FY2016 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Members of the House of Representatives will be asked to co-sponsor The Hospice Care Access Improvement Act of 2015 (HR 3037) that was just introduced yesterday, July 13, 2015. This legislation calls for a one year testing period to ensure any payment methodology reforms proposed by CMS will be implemented with minimal unintended complications or consequences. The opportunity to test any system changes and conduct the necessary education and training would benefit CMS and the hospice provider community. The legislation also contains a number of program integrity provisions long-supported by the hospice community.

The Hospice Action Network has created an easy to use online "Click to Call" Campaign that will help people understand the issue and then connect them to their Congressional representatives. The whole process should take no longer than 30 minutes, start to finish- that’s all it takes for you to make a difference.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Circle of Life Awards: Nominations Now Open

Call for Nominations: Circle of Life Award
Celebrating Innovation in Palliative and End-of-Life care

The Circle of Life Award honor innovative palliative and end-of-life care in hospices, hospitals, health care systems, long-term care facilities, and other direct care providers.  The Circle of Life Awards shine a light on programs and organizations that can serve as models or inspiration for other providers.

Make sure your program gets the national recognition it deserves. The Circle of Life Awards will give top honors in 2016 to up to three programs or organizations.
Hear past honorees talk about their innovations and the award's value to their programs.

In speaking with hospice providers, I frequently hear many of them say ‘I don’t think we’re ready yet to submit a nomination…” But I can attest that many of these organizations do have programs that are worth nominating for The Circle of Life Award says J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

“In fact, many hospice providers have found that the thorough process of submitting a nomination has led to unexpected sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. So I encourage hospices to look into nominating their worthwhile programs.”

For any questions, please email circleoflife@aha.org.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thinking in terms of terminal prognosis

Determining what aspects of care hospice providers are responsible for has become an issue of growing importance in recent months. NHPCO is working to help hospice providers with resources that will clarify what many considered a complex issue.

As part of NHPCO’s efforts to help providers understand the issue involving terminal prognosis, the organization has created a new 10-minute, online video that discusses the topic in an engaging format that will appeal to all hospice staff.

“As providers of hospice care, we must properly frame the way we think about and characterize our patients and the scope of our responsibility in providing care to them, providing a comprehensive and accurate picture that validates each patient’s eligibility for hospice care by focusing on the basis for their terminal prognosis,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

Read NHPCO's complete press release on the topic.