Proposed Home Health Legislation

Home Health Face-to-Face Encounters.

January 1, 2011 the Face to Face encounter became part of our day to day routine. The requirements put the majority of the burden on home health agencies to ensure that the documentation is completed within the appropriate time frames. The requirements identify implications for the home health agency that does not get the signed documentation, but do not have an implication for physicians.

We know that physicians are in the same place many agencies are. Too much to do and not enough time to get it done.  Paperwork, or documentation, is overwhelming everyone.

As you know today the only individuals who are able to sign home health plan of care documentation are “physicians”.   Enter the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 227, H.R. 2267). This Act, if passed, would allow Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs), Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs), and Physicians’ Assistants (PAs) to certify Medicare home health plans of care.

The Official Summary posted in Open Congress, states:

1/31/11 — Introduced Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2011 – Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to revise conditions of and limitations on payment for home health care services. Allows payment for home health services to Medicare beneficiaries by:

  1. A nurse practitioner,
  2. A clinical nurse specialist working in collaboration with a physician in accordance with state law,
  3. A certified nurse-midwife, or
  4. A physician assistant under a physician’s supervision.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has posted talking points to help you understand and contact your representatives urging them to support the Act. Among the talking points they identify the need for the legislation, in part to help with the increase in providing medically necessary services to Medicare beneficiaries, particularly in rural and underserved areas. In some cases the NPs, CNSs, CNMS and PAs are the individuals who are most familiar with what’s happening with the patient, and therefore it may be the best individual to sign off on the plan of care documentation.

We encourage you to support this legislation and contact your representatives to request their support.

Keeping track of clinical documentation and passing documents back and forth between your agency and physicians can involve a lot of wasted paper and time. HEALTHCAREfirst’s firstCPO product allows your agency to send documents to physicians, electronically. Contact us today for more information!