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NAHC Report: Issue# 2269, 9/9/2013
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OIG Criticizes CMS’ Oversight of Recovery Audit Contractors
HHS Shares Information on National Recovery Month
For Your Information: NAHC’s Annual Meeting Education Tracks in Focus: Hospice
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OIG Report: Frequency of Medicare Hospice Recertification Unimproved

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sent a memorandum to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) dated August 29, 2013 expressing concern that state surveys of hospice compliance with the Medicare conditions of participation (CoPs) are not occurring as frequently as they should.  The memorandum cited a 2007 OIG report that found that there was an average of nine years between federal hospice surveys and that 46 percent of surveyed hospices received citations for health care deficiencies - with the most frequently cited deficiencies related to care planning and quality issues.

CMS policy dictates the frequency of hospice surveys.  Current policy is for hospices to be surveyed at least every seven years (sequestration moved this back from a previous standard of every six years).  In the 2007 report, based on 2005 data, the OIG recommended that CMS seek statutory or regulatory timeframes for the frequency of hospice recertification surveys and suggested a timeframe of three years.  This is also consistent with the timeframe adhered to by private accrediting organizations (AOs).  CMS did not adopt the recommendation at that time due to the fact that additional resources were necessary.  This 2013 memorandum finds that not much has changed in regards to hospice surveys since the 2007 report.

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NAHC’s Annual Meeting Education Tracks in Focus: Hospice

This year’s Annual Meeting – being held October 31 – November 3 in Washington, DC – has a wide range of educational sessions for professionals in every segment of the home care and hospice community.

Below is a sampling of the many educational offerings available for those pursing the hospice track:

Palliative Care and Hospice in an Accountable Care Model

This session will provide an overview of palliative care in relation to other services as an opportunity in new payment models
for the successful management of the seriously ill population. Considerations for successful implementation and sustainability will be reviewed. Opportunities and barriers for program integration across the care continuum will also be discussed.

Modeling Hospice Changes to Prepare For Medicare Reimbursement and Care Delivery Reform

This program will provide insight into current and anticipated reimbursement challenges that Medicare hospice providers
face in the coming years, with special emphasis on the status of hospice payment reform. Hospice experts will walk attendees through how their organizations are preparing to meet the current and upcoming challenges.


It has become ever more difficult to determine the last days of a person’s life. The causes of death have increasingly shifted to chronic diseases, leading to varying, complicated, and subtle trajectories of decline. Limited research into the final stages of many chronic diseases further complicates prognosis. This program will be a review of the latest concepts and tools for prognostication that can improve accuracy in determining the final stages of a disease trajectory.

Hospice Association of America Open Forum and Policy Roundup

The Medicare Hospice Program has entered an era of rapid change that is being driven by regulatory and legislative initiatives. This session will provide insight into the latest regulatory issues hospice providers must address, as well as changes that are anticipated in the not-too-distant future. The session will also serve as an opportunity for attendees to become acquainted with staff and leadership of NAHC’s Hospice Association of America.

"This year's Annual Meeting rises to the level of the challenges we face," said Theresa Forster, NAHC's Vice President from Hospice Policy & Programs. "We have educational programs that will help prepare hospice providers for the bumpy road ahead - be it navigating a new payment system, marketing your programs to a changing healthcare and payment landscape, or meeting the numerous new regulatory requirements being imposed by federal agencies. The Annual Meeting will help make sense of it all, and I hope to see you all there!"

To register for this year’s Annual Meeting, please click here.

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HHS Shares Information on National Recovery Month

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a statement supporting September as National Recovery Month. In its 24th year, National Recovery Month celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery is possible.

The full text of the release is included below:

2013 National Recovery Month: A statement by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Now in its 24th year, National Recovery Month celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery is possible.

Every September, hundreds of thousands of people from communities across the nation get together to celebrate recovery and to educate their communities about behavioral health issues.

This year’s theme “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness” reflects the many ways people can prevent behavioral health issues, seek treatment, and sustain recovery as part of a commitment to living a mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy life.

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