The CMS is proposing a six-month delay for home health agencies to implement a final rule aimed at improving their operations and patient care.
The regulation outlined new operational requirements for home health agencies such as new training requirements for staff on competency of care and patient rights. The agency wants to delay implementation after industry stakeholders told the agency they needed more time to comply with the rule.
The current effective date for the final rule is July 13, 2017, and the CMS is proposing to delay the effective date until January 13, 2018.
The final rule required that patients and caregivers receive written information about services, such as instructions for medications or contact information for clinical managers at home health agencies.
Other requirement changes focused on enhancing integrated, coordinated care. The rule expanded a requirement for patient care coordination that designates a licensed clinician to be responsible for coordinating referrals and other services. The rule also mandates home health agencies implement integrated communication systems that will facilitate more cooperation between the agencies and patients' physicians.
The CMS estimates complying with the rule will cost home health agencies $293 million in the first year the rule goes into effect and $290 million annually after that. Providers said home health agencies would need to adjust resource allocation, staffing and potentially infrastructure to comply with the rule. The agency didn't elaborate what sort of infrastructure changes industry said they may need to make.
About 12,600 home health agencies provide services to roughly 5 million Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in the U.S., according to the CMS. Home health care provides skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and services from home health aides, among other services.