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Home Care Industry News Digest | 5.28.24

Home Care Industry News Digest | 5.28.24

Medicare Medicaid Private Duty Government Affairs & Advocacy External News

As the home care industry evolves, staying informed about recent developments is crucial. This roundup highlights key news, trends, challenges, and innovations in home care services, including technology advances and policy changes affecting Medicare and Medicaid. These articles provide valuable insights into the current state and future direction of the home care sector. Let's explore the details to gain a comprehensive understanding of the latest happenings.

Flurry of Accusations Fly Against Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Over Medicaid Procurement Process

The Capitolist | 5.24.24

Multiple health care providers have filed protests against Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) regarding its recent Medicaid contract awards. The complaints, from major players like United Healthcare and Molina Healthcare, allege inconsistencies, bias, and a lack of transparency in the evaluation process. Providers claim that AHCA favored incumbents, used unqualified personnel, applied arbitrary criteria, and violated state guidelines. Protests highlight potential risks to Medicaid services due to these alleged procedural flaws. The outcome of these protests could significantly impact the future of Medicaid services in Florida. HCAF is actively monitoring the protest process and will provide updates as they become available.

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Home Health Services Feel Recent Spending Slowdown: Altarum Report

McKnight's Home Care | 5.24.24

A recent report from health care consulting firm Altarum indicates a slowdown in growth for home health care spending in March, with a year-over-year increase of 6.4%, lagging behind other health-related categories like hospital care and physician services. Despite this, home health care saw an uptick in utilization and employment growth in April, adding nearly 14,000 jobs. However, prices for home health care services also experienced a slowdown in April, growing by only 2.5% year-over-year, compared to previous years. Overall, while spending growth has slowed, utilization and employment in home health care have shown resilience.

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NAHC, NHPCO to Merge, Dombi to Retire

McKnight's Home Care | 5.23.24

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) are set to merge by July, with NAHC President William Dombi planning to retire by the end of the year. The merger, authorized by both organization's boards, aims for operational integration by December. A new chief executive officer is being recruited, and Dombi will transition to the role of "president emeritus and of counsel" after retirement. This merger marks the organizations' fourth attempt, aiming to create a unified voice for the home health, home care, and hospice industries. Dombi's significant contributions to the sector are recognized, with plans to celebrate his legacy as NAHC transitions into the new organization.

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‘Time to Claim the Future’: The Hospital-at-Home Model’s Chance to Decentralize U.S. Health Care

Home Health Care News | 5.23.24

The hospital-at-home care model has the potential revolutionize the U.S. health care system by shifting more medical care to patients' homes. The article highlights recent legislative efforts to extend Medicare payment for hospital-at-home care, including the introduction of federal legislation to further support this model. The article emphasizes the role of stakeholders like Medically Home in driving the adoption of hospital-at-home programs, noting improvements in timeliness and the ability to care for complex patient populations. However, challenges remain, including the need for structured payment systems across payers and addressing the stress on family caregivers. Collaboration with existing home-based care providers is seen as a solution to these challenges, with the potential to benefit patients, clinicians, and providers alike.

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Home Health Services Expand Under New Florida Law

WCJB | 5.22.24

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill allowing advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to order home health care services for people on Medicaid, expanding access to home health care. The law, effective July 1, 2024, enables various health care services to be provided at home, including doctor care, therapy, home health aide services, and more. This legislation, which HCAF championed during the 2024 Florida Legislative Session, aims to reduce unnecessary trips to the doctor's office and improve physical access to health care, particularly for Medicaid patients who often face challenges in accessing services. This initiative is part of broader efforts by the state legislature to enhance health care access, including the Live Healthy Act, which allocates funds for recruiting providers and telehealth technology.

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Health and Social Workers Are Victims of 75% of Workplace Violence, According to OSHA

The Palm Beach Post | 5.20.24

Health and social workers experience 75% of workplace violence incidents, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Notable cases include a South Florida therapist who was held captive and sexually tortured by a client in 2022, a visiting nurse shot by a patient’s grandson in Spokane, Wash., and another nurse strangled while providing care in a Connecticut halfway house.

Between 2011 and 2013, 75% of the 23,000 workplace assaults occurred in health and social service settings. A 2016 survey suggests this number may be underreported. Health workers are five times more likely to suffer serious workplace violence injuries than workers in other sectors.

Despite the clear risks, these dangers remain largely unaddressed by employers and policymakers. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, introduced in April 2023, aims to mandate violence-prevention plans for employers in these fields. U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) emphasized the bipartisan necessity to protect these essential workers, stating, "We rely on them. It’s time for us to care for them."

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New Florida Law to Allow Advance Practice Nurse Practitioners to Prescribe Home Health

McKnight's Home Care | 5.20.24

A new law in Florida permits advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to prescribe Medicaid home health services. This legislation, which HCAF championed during the 2024 Florida Legislative Session, expands patient access to home health care and promotes independence, aiming to reduce health care costs by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations. The law aligns Florida with the federal CARES Act, which permits non-physician practitioners to order Medicare and Medicaid home health services. With unanimous support in the legislature, the law reflects a commitment to improving Medicaid patient access to quality health care while considering health care costs. It will take effect on July 1, 2024.

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Home Care Providers Hope New Bipartisan Package Will Push Elizabeth Dole Act Over Finish Line

McKnight's Home Care | 5.20.24

The U.S. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs introduced the Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act (H.R.8371), which includes provisions aimed at enhancing veterans' access to home care. Borrowing key elements from the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act, the new legislative package seeks to raise the expenditure cap for non-institutional alternatives to nursing home care, such as home care, to 100%. The original Elizabeth Dole Act, previously passed by the House, has stalled in the Senate, but experts believe that incorporating its provisions into a larger legislative package increases its chances of becoming law. The new package has garnered support from various other groups and bipartisan backing in both the House and Senate.

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Owner of Home Health Services Agency and Parent of Disabled Child Arrested for Medicaid Provider Fraud

Florida Daily | 5.15.24

Attorney General Ashley Moody's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) arrested Latrena Marie Thomas, owner of A River’s Journey, and Donald Ray Adams II, a parent of a disabled child, for Medicaid fraud. Thomas allegedly hired unlicensed individuals to provide care and paid Adams to provide medically licensed care for his own child, leading to fraudulent Medicaid claims for 30 recipients, totaling over $1.6 million. The scheme resulted in poor treatment and medical emergencies for Medicaid patients.

Thomas faces charges for first-degree felony Medicaid provider fraud, while Adams faces third-degree felony charges. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Clay County Sheriff's Office made the arrests. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

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