Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hospice Volunteers Honored for Outstanding Service

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recognized four outstanding volunteers at the organization’s 15th Clinical Team Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Awards recognizes hospice volunteers who best reflect the universal concept of volunteerism in its truest sense—serving as an inspiration to others.

This year’s recipients and the area for which they were honored are:

Clarence Smith, a volunteer with Beacon Hospice, an Amedisys company, in South Portland, Maine, for patient and family support.  He is a Korean War veteran who is actively involved in Beacon’s We Honor Veterans program, has volunteered since 2007 and has logged approximately 1,200 hours in patient visits.

Elizabeth “Betty” Takes, a volunteer with Hospice of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, for organizational support. She has dedicated over 30 years of her life to Hospice of Dubuque both professionally as a nurse and personally as a volunteer and board of directors member.

Margi Miller, a volunteer with Tidewell Hospice in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, for specialized volunteer support.  She uses her musical and artistic talent to help patients and families and has provided over 1,000 hours of service.

Katharine Foster, a volunteer with BJC Hospice in St. Louis, Missouri, for young leader support.  She is a pre-med student who began volunteering in 2012.  Since then she has logged 200 hours of direct patient contact. 

Volunteers play an integral role in hospice care and each and every one deserves recognition and the highest accolades.  From direct patient support and caregiver relief to administrative support in a local hospice office, hospice volunteers selflessly give of their time to serve patients and families who are facing end-of-life challenges,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. 

NHPCO reports that there are more than 355,000 trained hospice volunteers contributing more than 16 million hours of service to hospice organizations across the country.

Volunteer Award recipients (L to R): Katharine Foster, Betty Takes, Margi Miller, and Clarence Smith.

Friday, October 17, 2014

NIH Grants for Research on Arts in Palliative Care

The National Institutes of Health has funding opportunities to support arts-based approaches in palliative care for symptom management. NIH has posted information about a Research Project Grant, "Arts-Based Approaches in Palliative Care for Symptom Management" (R01).

As stated in the NIH announcment: The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to support mechanistic clinical studies aimed at understanding the impact of arts-based approaches in palliative care for symptom management. This FOA is intended to support mechanistic clinical studies to provide an evidence base for the use of the arts in palliative care for symptom management. The objective is to understand the biological, physiological, neurological, psychological, and/or sociological mechanisms by which the arts exert their effects on symptom management during and throughout the palliative care continuum. The goal is for the research supported under this FOA to develop an evidence-base that could be used as a basis for the uptake of arts-based therapies in palliative care settings, among individuals across the lifespan, with a wide variety of serious chronic conditions and their accompanying symptoms. This FOA is not intended to determine efficacy or the comparative effectiveness of interventions, or to assess interventions designed to treat the underlying cause of a particular disease state.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number is PAR-14-294.

Find more information at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-14-294.html#sthash.ZT52fhGe.dpuf.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

President Obama Signs IMPACT Act Bringing Valuable Oversight to Hospices

Yesterday afternoon, President Obama signed into law the “Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014” (IMPACT Act) that includes provisions creating greater oversight and increased transparency within the hospice community. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization heralds the passage of this legislation and the additional oversight it will bring to end-of-life care providers.

The provisions that affect hospice providers are:
  1. Mandated surveys of Medicare certified hospice providers at least every three years for the next ten years at the minimum.
  2. Medical reviews for hospice programs with a soon to be determined percentage/number of patients receiving care for more than 180 days. The specific patient load that would trigger this medical review will be set by CMS.
  3. Hospice aggregate financial cap will be aligned with hospice reimbursement using a common inflationary index that will not change hospice reimbursement for providers.
“As hospice and palliative care providers, we care for patients and families at one of life’s most vulnerable times.  Americans need to know that all Medicare-certified providers are committed to the highest standards of quality and compliance.  This new law strengthens oversight and transparency throughout the entire hospice community,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “NHPCO applauds President Obama for signing the IMPACT Act into law.”

“Under NHPCO’s leadership, the hospice community has been on the frontlines of advocating for increased transparency, program integrity, and accountability. We believe that the hospice provisions included in the IMPACT Act are critically important steps in this direction,” stressed Schumacher.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CMS Invalid Hospice Diagnosis Codes

Hospice providers should be aware of the list of “Invalid Hospice Diagnosis Codes” which should not be used as a primary diagnosis for a hospice patient for dates of service beginning October 1, 2014 or later.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued CR 8877, "Hospice Manual Update for Diagnosis Reporting and Filing Hospice Notice of Election (NOE) and Termination or Revocation of Election" on August 22, 2014.  At that time NHPCO advised the field and created a compliance update document in late August with the details of all provisions of CR 8877.

Recently, the Regulatory Team at NHPCO has received numerous questions about the invalid diagnosis codes contained in Attachment A of this CMS Change Request.  Of particular importance are coding guidelines related to:
  • ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM Coding Guidelines
  • ICD-9-CM/ICD-10-CM Dementia Coding Guidelines
  • Hospice Invalid Principal Diagnosis Codes 
Providers should be familiar with the provisions of CR 8877, "Hospice Manual Update for Diagnosis Reporting and Filing Hospice Notice of Election (NOE) and Termination or Revocation of Election." This Change Request provides a manual update and provider education for CMS edits in place for principal diagnoses that are not appropriate for reporting on hospice claims.

NHPCO members looking for assistance with CR 8877 will find a Regulatory Alert (10/02/14) posted on the NHPCO website that includes a link to the original compliance update document released last August.