Hospice & Palliative Care

Change is fast-paced in the world of COVID-19. On Monday, March 30th, CMS released an interim final rule along with hospice specific waivers. In this episode, your Hospice Team discusses these recent developments and their impact on telehealth, face-to-face encounters, virtual visits and Medicare appeals and audits.

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) goes into effect today, April 1, 2020, and applies to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.  The FFCRA expands certain medical leave rights previously established by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“E-FMLA”) to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of paid, job-protected leave for employees with school closure or childcare coverage issues related to the current coronavirus pandemic.  The FFCRA also provides for two (2) weeks of paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“E-PSLA”) for certain COVID-19-related reasons (the E-FMLA and E-PSLA are collectively referred to as “Expanded Leave”).[1]  However, employers who employ “health care providers” may, but are not required to, exempt these individuals from Expanded Leave.  Most, if not all, of a hospice’s employees will fall within the broad definition of “health care provider.”  Therefore, hospices will need to evaluate who of its employees it will exempt or not, being certain to treat similarly situated employees equally and to consider the potential impact to its workforce.
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At Husch Blackwell we understand the financial hardships our healthcare industry clients face in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While you have no doubt heard about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, we want to make sure you are aware of the estimated $377 billion in Small Business Administration (“SBA”) relief that may be available to you as an eligible small business. We encourage you to act immediately so that you may secure funding as quickly as possible.
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In this episode, your Hospice Team shares insights on operationalizing recent government guidance for hospices facing coronavirus obstacles. We discuss the role of virtual visits, how to use telehealth, and the practical impact of the Medicare appeal waiver. Listen to the full episode here: https://bit.ly/2JmhkMV

On March 22, 2020, and as subsequently clarified on March 27, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) temporarily lifted the requirements for hospices to submit Hospice Item Set (“HIS”) data and hospice Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (“CAHPS”) survey data.  Prior to CMS’s action, failure to comply with these data reporting requirements of the Hospice Quality Reporting Program (“HQRP”), absent an exception, resulted in a 2 percent reduction to a hospice’s annual Medicare payment update.
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The Husch Blackwell Hospice Team has been receiving reports from hospices throughout the country that nursing facilities are prohibiting hospice workers from entering the facility to provide essential end-of-life care to hospice patients. Such access is being denied pursuant to visitor restrictions. However, hospice personnel are not visitors but are recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) as essential health care personnel who must be given access.

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These are extraordinary times. COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, has disrupted the life of every American and every business. Hospices are no exception. In fact, they are on the frontlines, responsible for providing care to the elderly, a population extremely susceptible to COVID-19. The Husch Blackwell Hospice Team is fundamentally a group of problem solvers,

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic declaration, hospice providers are faced with the difficult conundrum of ensuring the continuity of care for their vulnerable patients while attempting to comply with the recent CDC and CMS guidelines regarding post-acute care facilities’ lock-down procedures. There is no question the intentions of long-term care facilities are well-meaning in an effort to protect its residents who are most susceptible to COVID-19 complications.[1] However, these precautionary measures put residents receiving hospice services at risk of missing supportive treatment and important care planning.  The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) derived its skilled nursing facility visitor restriction recommendations from the CMS revised guidance issued March 9, 2020, and hospice providers should take note of these recommendations to ensure they are not prohibited from caring for their patients.
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In the third episode of Hospice Insights: The Law and Beyond, Meg Pekarske shares a lively discussion with colleague Jon Anderson on what should be front of mind for hospices in 2020 from a labor and employment perspective. Jon shares insights on what the new developments in wage and hour and employment discrimination laws mean

In this “Hospice Insights: The Law and Beyond” episode, the hospice team shares insights on how to manage and succeed in responding to additional documentation requests (“ADR”) stemming from Targeted Probe and Educate (“TPEs”) projects. We discuss the unique features of TPE and winning strategies for responding. Check out the Hospice Resource Library for tips