CMS' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced Thursday it will extend by one year its pilot program that allows hospices to bill for routine home care as well as end-of-life services under Medicare.
The Medicare Care Choices Model, which started in 2016, was set to conclude at the end of this year but the extension allows hospices to enroll beneficiaries to the program until June 30, 2021 and it will now conclude on December 31, 2021.
The CMMI has extended some of its models amid the COVID-19 pandemic including the Next Generation ACO model. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the extensions and flexibilities are meant to ease regulatory burden on providers during the pandemic as well as encourage participation in value-based payment arrangements.
The Medicare Care Choices Model allows hospice providers to bill Medicare for both routine home care a patient needs for an illness as well as for respite care. In traditional Medicare, a patient usually has to forgo routine medical care when receiving hospice services because both aren't covered at the same time. The CMS is evaluating if the model improves quality of care, patient and family satisfaction and if it effects usage of the hospice benefit.
There are currently 82 hospices that participate in the program and they must apply for the extension. New hospices can't enroll, according to the CMS.