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CMS releases home health final rule

The rule reduces home health payments by 0.3 percent from 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final rule for the home health prospective payment system for calendar year 2015 this week. The rule updates Medicare payment rates to home health agencies and implements the second year of the four-year phase in of the rebasing of the payment system.

Overall, as in the proposed rule, the final rule reduces home health payments by 0.3 percent from 2014 payment levels, a $60 million reduction. The regulation also simplifies the requirements for the congressionally-mandated face-to-face encounter policy, which requires a physician to meet face-to-face with patients transitioning from general acute-care hospitals and other settings to home care to certify that the service is medically necessary. The final rule eliminates the requirement for the inclusion of a narrative in the physician's certification of need.

The agency will also replace the current schedule for therapy reassessments with a requirement that such reassessments occur every 30 days, a longer interval than initially proposed. In addition, the regulation establishes a minimum threshold for determining whether home health agencies have submitted sufficient patient assessment data to calculate quality measures.

The final rule takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015. For more detail, click here to read the CMS rule.