NAHC Hosts Industry-Wide Teleconference
NAHC Staff Update the Home Care & Hospice Community on Pressing Issues Ranging from the Government Shutdown to Rebasing, the Companionship Exemption to the Face-to-Face Requirement
October 14, 2013 11:22 AM
Last week, NAHC hosted an industry-wide teleconference to share status updates on some of the most pertinent issues currently facing the home care & hospice community. During the hour-long call, topics ranged from the government shutdown and looming debt ceiling default to CMS’ rebasing proposal, the Department of Labor’s companionship exemption rule and numerous other topics that are currently of concern to home care & hospice providers.
The call was led by NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris with NAHC’s Vice President for Law, Bill Dombi; Vice President for Government Affairs Jeffrey Kincheloe; Richard Brennan, Vice President for Technology Policy and Government Affairs; and, Theresa Forster, Vice President for Hospice Policy and Programs all participating and sharing updates with the call’s participants as well.
NAHC’s President Val J. Halamandaris opened up the call by updating listeners on the ongoing government shutdown and looming debt ceiling default – stating that his belief is that there will be a deal reached on the debt ceiling, albeit a temporary one. Mr. Halamandaris also updated the call on recent changes that affect home care & hospice policy – specifically the rebasing rule from CMS and the companionship exemption rule from the Department of Labor.
With respect to the government shutdown and the rebasing rule, Mr. Dombi added that the shutdown has, “impacted our ability to advocate because CMS is shut down.”
What is at issue with the rebasing issue is a rule promulgated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in June would in effect lead to a 14 percent reduction in payment rates for vital home health services. This huge cut comes on top of 20.15 percent in rate cuts since 2008 and would leave providers with an average margin of -9.77 percent by 2017. The CMS proposal would “rebase” payment rates with a four year phase-in as required under the Affordable Care Act. The overreaching proposed rate cuts will result in payments far below the cost of services, thereby jeopardizing care to homebound elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries.
For more on CMS’ proposed rebasing rule, please click here for a September 25, 2013 NAHC Report article.
The companionship exemption rule change would also have dire consequences for the home care & hospice community. Under the Department of Labor rule change, the definition of Companionship Services, which has been in effect since 1975, would be totally redefined and a new category, “fellowship services,” is like, “buying a friend,” according to NAHC’s Vice President of Law Bill Dombi, continuing, “what most infirm individuals need is not to buy a friend. They need care.”
For more on the Department of Labor’s Companionship Rule, please click here for a September 18, 2013 NAHC Report article.
NAHC’s industry-wide teleconference was announced because of the number of issues that are currently having significant impact on the home care & hospice community. Call attendees were urged to join their peers and colleagues at this year’s Annual Meeting & Exposition, being held October 31 – November 3 in Washington, DC.
To register for NAHC’s Annual Meeting, please click here.