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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Heath care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

CMS ODF Highlights Pending Home Health, Hospice Issues

March 7, 2014 10:40 AM

CMS held a Home Health, Hospice, and Durable Medical Equipment Open Door Forum (ODF) on March 5, 2014.  A summary of the items discussed that impact home health and hospice agencies is below.

Home Health

Change Request (CR) 8539 has an April 1, 2014 effective date (dates of service).  This CR adds some HCPCS codes to the non-routine supply list and replaces the speech therapy code 92506 with four more specific speech therapy billing codes.

MLNMatters Article SE1410 was re-released on March 4, 2014.  This special edition MLNMatters article provides instructions for ICD-10-CM coding on home health claims with episodes that span October 1, 2014. 

Due to a change in how LUPA add on payments are calculated several new fields needed to be added for claims processing and the PC Pricer software updated.  The updated software is available on the CMS website but the corresponding User Manual is not yet revised.  It is expected that the revised User Manual will be up on the CMS website within two weeks.

Agencies were reminded that there is still time to participate in the current HHCAHPS reporting period but time is running out.  Those agencies required to participate but not doing so will have their annual payment update for FY2015 reduced by 2%. To begin participation an agency needs to register, contract with and authorize a vendor.  HHCAHPS survey implementation can begin as soon as these steps are complete.  Home health agencies without four quarters worth of data cannot participate in the HHCAHPS data submission process.  April 17, 2014 is the data submission deadline for fourth quarter 2013 HHCAHPS data. This is a firm deadline. There are no exceptions.

Therefore, agencies were reminded to verify that their monthly data for HHCAHPS is being submitted.  Providers can do this by logging in at An agency having trouble submitting the monthly file to their vendor should contact the vendor right away so the vendor can fill out a notification report and submit it to CMS. CMS uses these reports when considering if and HHA has met the reporting requirements for the annual payment update. 

The HHCAHPS participation exemption request form for the 2016 annual payment update will be available on April 1 2014.  New on the HHCAHPS website is an updated HHA responsibilities paper.  The paper can be accessed through the link on the homepage.  Also coming to the website are announcements about CY2016 requirements. 

April 17, 2014, HH Compare, will be refreshed with updated HHCAHPS data through September 30, 2013. Home health agencies can preview their data on the HHCAHPS website beginning April 3, 2014.

On September 26, 2014 home health agencies will transition from submitting OASIS data through state servers to submitting OASIS data through a centralized national server, the Assessment Submission and Processing (ASAP) system. Validation reports for OASIS submitted prior to this date will be available from state servers for 60 days. 

Data specification version 2.10.0 is to be used for OASIS C records with a M0090 date before October 1, 2014.  These records also use the ICD-9-CM coding guidelines. Version 2.11.0 is to be used for OASIS C records with a M0090 date on or after October 1, 2014. CMS panelists reminded providers that new data submission specifications are on the OASIS website. Providers are encouraged to check this website regularly for updates and changes.

There will be a new OASIS homepage for submitting files with a different URL. This will be available on October 1, 2014. Likewise, there is a new version of Haven, called J-Haven.  More information is available here.

There will be an OASIS C-1 training webinar on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.  The webinar will run from 2:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern.  A live Q&A session will not be part of the webinar due to the need to research answers.  Questions should be submitted prior to the webinar to the current OASIS question box at

Further instruction for participating in the training webinar is forthcoming; however, CMS indicated that there will only be 1,000 lines available for this session and access is on a first-come, first-served basis.  No pre-registration is required.  Providers are strongly encouraged to call in at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the training.


The CMS panel did not address the agenda item Hospice and Part D.  Several participants asked questions about this to which CMS responded that there is additional information forthcoming.   It was delayed due to an inclement weather closure at CMS Monday.  NAHC will let you know as soon as something is released.

Providers were reminded that CR 8358 was re-issued on January 31, 2014 to clarify frequent questions. CMS indicated that the drug reporting requirements apply to all levels of care.  NAHC has developed a Q&A document on this subject that members can access here

CMS representatives reminded providers that the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP) submission deadline for the FY2015 reporting cycle is 11:59 PM eastern on April 1, 2014.  A new account is required for submission of the data.  Last year’s accounts are no longer active.  Providers can register for new accounts by going to and clicking the “Register” link in the upper right corner.  Only about half of the hospice providers have registered for an account and submitted their data.  Any questions about submission should be directed to the help desk at 877-201-4721. 

Beginning January 1, Hospices are no longer required to collect data on the pain measure (NQF#209) or the structural measure.  They should be preparing for the implementation of the HIS that is effective for all admission on or after July 1, 2014.  There was CMS training on the HIS in February.  These trainings were recorded and can be accessed at:

HIS Data Collection Training Day 1 (Feb. 4, 2014) is available here.

HIS Data Collection Training Day 2 (Feb. 5, 2014) here.

Providers should familiarize themselves with the HIS Training Manual before listening to the training sessions.  Technical training sessions via WebX modules will be available in May.  Providers will need to submit all HIS records electronically and will need to register for two CMS user IDs in order to do this.  One ID will provide access to the network for submission and the second will provide access to CASPER,  which is the module from which providers will access submission and other HIS reports. Access to registering for these IDs through CMS will be available beginning May 19, 2014.

A Hospice CAHPS update was also provided.  Hospice CAHPS is the experience of care survey that will be added to the hospice quality reporting program (HQRP) in 2015.  Hospices will need to choose and authorize a vendor to administer their CAHPS survey.  In January, February or March of 2015 hospice providers will need to do a dry run of the survey.  Beginning in April 2015 hospice CAHPS survey data must be submitted monthly to CMS by the hospice’s chosen vendor.  Updates to Hospice CAHPS will be delivered through the CMS ODFs and a website specifically for Hospice CAHPS will soon be launched.  The web address will be

CMS provided an explanation of the revised cost reporting instructions in cases where hospices contract with critical access hospitals (CAHS) or other hospitals to use the facility’s surplus beds for hospice patients.  The revised cost reporting instructions were published in September 2013 in the CMS publication 15-2, Chapter 40, Transmittal 4.  Basically, the cost report offsets the CAHS/hospital’s general inpatient care costs by the payment amount received by the hospice. Providers with questions about this can email Darryl Simms at or call him at 410-786-4524.




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