Home health providers serving Medicare beneficiaries would be required to conduct criminal background checks on prospective home health aides under the first major proposed revisions to HCFA's home health "conditions of participation" since 1973.
The new conditions of participation-which are standards that home health providers must meet before they can serve Medicare beneficiaries-were one of two sets of proposed regulations HCFA announced last week aimed at improving patient protections and quality of care.
A separate proposed rule would require home health agencies to use a standardized data system called the Outcomes and Assessment Information Set, or OASIS, to measure quality and patient satisfaction.
HCFA Administrator Bruce Vladeck said requiring the use of OASIS is a first step to comparing agencies' performance with national data.
Other provisions of the proposed regulations would require that:
Home health agencies provide a majority of services by employed staff members rather than through contracts. HCFA said excessive use of contracted home health personnel indicates agencies might not have enough control over quality or their patient loads have exceeded their ability to provide care.
Agencies be responsible for adhering to a physician-ordered care plan, improving coordination between agencies and disciplines providing different types of care, and eliminating redundant or conflicting services.
Agencies provide patients with more detailed information on the treatment they are to receive and inform them about what outcomes to expect.