Category: General News

Vaccine Update: Governor Opens Eligibility to Phase 1b as HCA Continues to Provide Critical Resources for Home Care and Hospice

Throughout the past week — a time when home care and hospice workers were included among phase 1a priority workers — HCA compiled and circulated to members a series of spreadsheets with links for accessing the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to the state and city vaccine appointment pages.

While health care workers remain a priority (including, specifically, home care and hospice), the Governor on Friday announced the expansion of vaccine priority to phase 1b, which includes certain other essential workers and individuals age 75 and older. Continue reading “Vaccine Update: Governor Opens Eligibility to Phase 1b as HCA Continues to Provide Critical Resources for Home Care and Hospice”

HHCN: NY Moves Up COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility for Home Care, Hospice Workers

“Home care and hospice workers are now part of the pool of New Yorkers eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” reports Home Health Care News on January 10, 2021. “This development didn’t just happen overnight. In fact, it was the result of a significant push from New York home-based care associations, Roger Noyes, director of communications at the Home Care Association of New York State (HCA-NYS), told Home Health Care News.”

Vaccination Update: New County Health Dept. Info and Messaging to Encourage Your Staff

Yesterday, HCA shared information about vaccination sites and appointment scheduling. Several county health departments have also begun posting vaccination information. All of this is compiled in a new series of spreadsheets on our COVID-19 resource page to further assist in your effort to facilitate staff vaccinations. Please also be sure to review the state and city vaccine eligibility sites.

While not all county agencies are actively vaccinating at this time, many are doing so, and this information is constantly changing.

Continue reading “Vaccination Update: New County Health Dept. Info and Messaging to Encourage Your Staff”

Home Care, Hospice Workers Now in Week 4 Vaccination Following HCA Appeals

Vaccine scheduling information now posted to our COVID-19 page. Please bookmark this site and check it regularly for updates.

Following HCA’s daily and continuous outreach to officials at all levels of the statewide vaccination effort, the state Department of Health (DOH) last night revised its guidance to move up the schedule for home care and hospice worker vaccination.

According to the new guidance, home care and hospice workers are now included in the week 4 vaccine prioritization schedule this week (beginning January 4).

Continue reading “Home Care, Hospice Workers Now in Week 4 Vaccination Following HCA Appeals”

HCA Continues Pressing Home Care, Hospice Vaccine Prioritization with Commissioner, Regional Task Force Coalitions 

HCA continues to seek clarity and advocate for prioritization of home care and hospice in the statewide vaccination roll out.

Complicating the consistency of information is the fact that statewide logistics appear to have been substantially delegated to ten regional planning hubs, also known as Regional Advisory Task Force (RATF) coalitions, led mostly by hospitals. A list of all ten hubs is provided on the Governor’s website here. Continue reading “HCA Continues Pressing Home Care, Hospice Vaccine Prioritization with Commissioner, Regional Task Force Coalitions “

NYC Home Care, Hospice Workers Included in Phase I as HCA Discusses Vaccine Logistics with City Officials

HCA today spoke with New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) immunization officials about logistics for COVID-19 vaccination of home care and hospice workers.

Notably, in response to our ongoing emphasis about home care’s vital patient care role, the city is including home care workers in phase I of its plan, along with other phase I workers (in hospitals and nursing homes) in New York City, consistent with advisory recommendations made at the federal level.

Continue reading “NYC Home Care, Hospice Workers Included in Phase I as HCA Discusses Vaccine Logistics with City Officials”

DOH Confirms COVID-19 Vaccination Enrollment Program Open to Home Care

HCA has received confirmation from the state Department of Health (DOH) that home care providers who intend to receive and administer COVID-19 vaccine should prepare now by enrolling in the state’s vaccine program for providers outside of New York City. A separate process is in place for New York City providers.

Continue reading “DOH Confirms COVID-19 Vaccination Enrollment Program Open to Home Care”

NYC Removes Requirement That Home Care Providers Have Less Than 1 Week of PPE Before Ordering from City Stockpile

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) has removed the requirement that agencies serving NYC must have less than one week of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to request PPE from the city’s PPE Service Center. Continue reading “NYC Removes Requirement That Home Care Providers Have Less Than 1 Week of PPE Before Ordering from City Stockpile”

NYSACHO to County Health Commissioners: Include Home Care in Your Partnerships on COVID-19 Testing, Equipped by HCA Training 

The Governor and state Health Commissioner have requested all county health departments to establish plans for COVID-19 testing and immunization capabilities.

Yesterday, this request was given a major signal for county health officials to work with home care agencies on these efforts, equipped by HCA’s training program.

Sarah Ravenhall, Executive Director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO), joined HCA President Al Cardillo in a letter to all county health commissioners whose departments oversee the local public health response to COVID-19. Together they urge commissioners to look to home care agencies as a critical partner and resource that can assist with county-level COVID-19 testing capacity through in-home specimen collection.   Continue reading “NYSACHO to County Health Commissioners: Include Home Care in Your Partnerships on COVID-19 Testing, Equipped by HCA Training “

12 New Webinars: Best Home Care Practices in the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond

HCA Education and Research (E&R) is pleased to present Best Clinical and Operational Practices in COVID and Beyond, a grant-funded online learning series curated by HCA E&R under a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

These 24/7, on-demand webinars are free of charge. They provide model insights and innovations pioneered by home and community-based providers. Our faculty include home and community care clinicians, operational leaders, and executives covering a range of clinical and operational topics.

Continue reading “12 New Webinars: Best Home Care Practices in the COVID-19 Emergency and Beyond”

COVID-19 Briefs for November 9, 2020: Out of State Travel & Vaccine Updates

New York has submitted its COVID-19 Vaccination Program to the federal government.

It describes steps and protocols to ensure the safe and efficient distribution and administration of vaccine to New York residents. The document includes: guidelines and vaccine planning considerations; measures to ensure vaccine safety; a vaccine prioritization matrix; a distribution and delivery process; training and support of providers administering the vaccine; data and IT infrastructure to coordinate and monitor the program; public education and community outreach; and a budget and procurement process. A Vaccine Central Command Center is proposed to manage the entire vaccine program.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for November 9, 2020: Out of State Travel & Vaccine Updates”

1 Minute Advocacy: Urge Congress to Pass Bill Allowing Medicare Home Telehealth Payment

Both houses of Congress have introduced legislation that would provide Medicare reimbursement to home health agencies that deliver audio and video telehealth services during COVID-19. This is a major priority.

Today, we ask that you use our online Legislative Action Center to write New York’s Senators and your Member of Congress to pass this critical billIt takes less than a minute to do.

As we note in our Action Center campaign, “this technology is vital in the pandemic. It extends home care’s reach to patients who are socially isolated, anxious, and in need of more complex services, especially the growing number of patients discharged from hospitals to home care with severe post-COVID-19 care needs.”

We also cite recent HCA data collected in a survey of providers showing that the number of home health providers having to turn to telehealth in the pandemic has doubled, from 22 percent of providers before the pandemic to 46 percent today, yet there’s no Medicare reimbursement to support this service.

Thank you to all of the providers who answered this survey, which supports key advocacy messaging.

Please act on this advocacy messaging today, and urge your staff to do the same.

HCA Webinar: Join Labor Law Expert Emina Poricanin on New Paid Sick Leave Guidance, FAQs 

Please join HCA and home care labor law expert Emina Poricanin for a webinar on Monday, October 26 (at 1 p.m.) where she’ll provide an update on the state’s Paid Sick Leave law.

The state law requires employers with five or more employees to provide their employees with paid sick and safe leave. Businesses with fewer than five employees and a net income of $1 million or less must provide unpaid sick and safe leave to employees.

Poricanin will explain the law’s implications for home care providers so that your organization can develop leave policies and practices for 2021, ensuring compliance. She’ll specifically cover highlights of new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted earlier this week by the state Department of Labor.

Join Us on Oct. 16: Onboarding Your Patients or Clients to the Statewide Virtual Senior Center (VSC)

Register today for an October 16 Zoom presentation to learn how your home care, hospice or MLTC organization can onboard patients/clients so they can connect to the Statewide Virtual Senior Center (VSC).

The session, from 11 a.m. to noon, will be hosted by HCA Education and Research (HCA E&R) and Selfhelp Community Services, building on an introductory webinar that we held in July.

To register for the October 16 Zoom session, just complete the online form here and HCA E&R will e-mail you a Zoom link on the morning of the program so that you can connect to the discussion.

Continue reading “Join Us on Oct. 16: Onboarding Your Patients or Clients to the Statewide Virtual Senior Center (VSC)”

Sepsis Month: Senate Resolution, NYSOFA PR, Plus HCR, VNSNY & Americare Features

The state Senate has passed a resolution recognizing September 2020 as Sepsis Awareness Month in the State of New York.

HCA, our Stop Sepsis at Home NY screening initiative, and allied partners recognize and greatly appreciate this action initiated by the Senate’s Health Committee Chairman Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Full text of the resolution is posted to our Stop Sepsis at Home NY website here.

Our partners at Sepsis Alliance are working to achieve similar resolutions in all 50 states, and HCA is proud to be part of efforts to put New York State in that number as we work alongside other leading advocacy and awareness organizations like End Sepsis: The Legacy of Rory Staunton. Continue reading “Sepsis Month: Senate Resolution, NYSOFA PR, Plus HCR, VNSNY & Americare Features”

NYC PPE Stockpile Information Released

New York City (NYC) has been working to compile an emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) for home care and other health care providers that service NYC in the event that there is a COVID-19 resurgence. 

To streamline the product request process, NYC is partnering with Medline to support the requesting and delivery process. Once in effect, this will replace the system that HCA and the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP) worked out with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) whereby some of our members devoted much time and resources to serve as distribution sites for PPE furnished by the City for home care providers in all boroughs. Continue reading “NYC PPE Stockpile Information Released”

Free Series: 7 Hospital-Home Care Collaboration Models for Improved Patient Care

In a September 3 presentation, we introduced hospitals and home care providers to the HCA-HANYS-IHA “Statewide Hospital-Home Care Collaborative for COVID-19 and Beyond.”

As part of this program, we are offering seven upcoming webinars free of charge for all hospital and home care organizations in New York State. Continue reading “Free Series: 7 Hospital-Home Care Collaboration Models for Improved Patient Care”

Register: HCA’s Senior Finance Managers Retreat on Sept. 15-16

Online registration is now open for HCA’s Senior Financial Managers Retreat, our signature finance program for CHHAs, LHCSAs, hospice and MLTC.

While the retreat (on September 15 & 16) was originally planned for the Mohonk Mountain Resort in New Paltz, New York, we have transitioned to a virtual live event this year that will be broadcast through Crowdcast to any location using your computer, tablet or smart phone.

Continue reading “Register: HCA’s Senior Finance Managers Retreat on Sept. 15-16”

Senator Gillibrand, Colleagues Press HHS for Home Care Supports

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today issued a press release and letter to federal health officials seeking vital supports for home and community-based providers in the pandemic. Among them: priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE); telehealth reimbursement for home health agencies; and funding support for Medicaid home and community-based providers and workers.

HCA and HCA member the Visiting Nurse Service of New York have been working closely with Senator Gillibrand’s office on this appeal.

Continue reading “Senator Gillibrand, Colleagues Press HHS for Home Care Supports”

Join Sept. 3 Webinar Unveiling HCA-HANYS-IHA Care Collaboration Initiative for Home Care and Hospitals

Hospital and home care leaders are invited to join HCA, the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) and the Iroquois Healthcare Association (IHA) for a September 3 webinar launching our “Statewide Hospital-Home Care Collaborative for COVID-19 and Beyond.”

Registration for the launch webinar, at 4 p.m., is here.

This HCA-HANYS-IHA collaborative is being supported by a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. It is designed to promote pre- and post-hospital collaboration among hospitals and home care providers to address patients’ needs not only in the COVID-19 pandemic but also on a lasting basis.

Continue reading “Join Sept. 3 Webinar Unveiling HCA-HANYS-IHA Care Collaboration Initiative for Home Care and Hospitals”

President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Extend Federal Relief and Other COVID-19 Updates

On Saturday evening, President Donald J. Trump signed four executive actions that would: extend unemployment benefits; prevent residential evictions and foreclosures; assist with student loans; and suspend the collection of payroll taxes.

Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questioned the constitutionality of these actions amid a stalemate on negotiations over the next coronavirus aid package. Continue reading “President Trump Signs Executive Orders to Extend Federal Relief and Other COVID-19 Updates”

HCA to Testify Today at Legislative Hearing on COVID-19 and Long Term Care

HCA will be testifying today in the second of two state legislative hearings examining the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes and other long term care settings. The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

At the first hearing — for New York City, Westchester and Long Island last week — lawmakers raised numerous questions focused on nursing home fatality rates, how the data were represented, nursing home visitation policies, and more. Continue reading “HCA to Testify Today at Legislative Hearing on COVID-19 and Long Term Care”

Register Now for HCA’s Virtual Annual Conference: August 25 & 26

Two days, ten sessions and a much-needed time for learning, reflection, collaboration and morale!  

Registration is now open for HCA’s Annual Conference on August 25 and 26, our flagship yearly event, now virtual!

A global health pandemic. Long-pressing industry needs. Some of the most consequential program changes in recent history. We need this gathering more than ever before: a moment for learning, reflection, collaboration and morale.

Participants have ten sessions to choose from, spaced across two days and streamed through our new online learning management systemRead our agenda at-a-glance to learn more.

To register through our learning management system, you’ll need to create a profile first and then follow the instructions. We will provide you with all the details for accessing our conference stream on August 25 and 26, including the opportunity to watch content on-demand as well.

Every crisis is an opportunity. While we would love to see you in person, this virtual format offers convenience, flexibility and lower registration fees, including a new group discount rate for an UNLIMITED number of staff to attend from your organization.

Got questions? Contact HCA’s Director of Education Celisia Street.

A Virtual Senior Center for Your Home Care Patients: Learn More at July 24 Webinar

Interactive online platform helps overcome social isolation in older adults during COVID-19 health emergency 

Join HCA Education and Research (E&R), Selfhelp Community Services and public officials on July 24 at 10:30 a.m. to see first-hand a powerful, interactive Virtual Senior Center (VSC) platform open for all home and community-based clients to enroll. Register for the webinar here.

Continue reading “A Virtual Senior Center for Your Home Care Patients: Learn More at July 24 Webinar”

COVID-19 Briefs for July 13, 2020

State DOH Issues Return to Work Guidance 

As announced in a member alert last week, the state Department of Health (DOH) released guidance on revised protocols for home care and other health care personnel to return to work following COVID-19 exposure or infection.  

The guidance outlines the conditions under which entities may allow staff to return to work after: 1) being confirmed or suspected of COVID-19 exposure or infection; or 2) after traveling to a state with a significant degree of community spread (see DOH’s travel guidance and update below), among other situations.  Continue reading “COVID-19 Briefs for July 13, 2020”

New 7/10 Webinar: Applying for Medicaid CARES Act Financial Relief

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced $15 billion in CARES Act relief funds for Medicaid providers who lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS has clarified that home care agencies are eligible, under fee-for-service and managed care. This includes Licensed Home Care Services Agencies and Certified Home Health Agencies who meet all of the conditions.

On July 10, in two days, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement expert Koy Dever of BKD, LLP will lead a webinar offering the latest information on eligibility criteria, navigating the application process, terms and conditions, reporting and audit requirements, as well as frequently asked questions.

Continue reading “New 7/10 Webinar: Applying for Medicaid CARES Act Financial Relief”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending June 7, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending June 7, 2020.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending June 7, 2020”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 31, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending May 31.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 31, 2020”

Act Now on Urgent Call for Federal COVID-19 Funds to Home Care in Congress

Please act today here on a new HCA Legislative Action Center campaign urging direct federal funds for New York home care providers at the front line of the COVID-19 epicenter.

As previously reported, HCA has estimated home care’s COVID-19 financial impact to be at least $200 million in New York State, a conservative estimate. We are calling on Congress to appropriate this baseline, threshold amount needed in the next aid package to stabilize New York home care providers who have, to date, received little aid relative to other settings. Much of this aid has come in the form of advance payments, loans and other financial mechanisms primarily through Medicare-funded programs but with little comprehensive support for providers of all home and community-based programs, including Medicaid services. Continue reading “Act Now on Urgent Call for Federal COVID-19 Funds to Home Care in Congress”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 25, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending May 25.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 25, 2020”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 17, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending May 17.

This is a weekly digest of new information as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, please see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending May 17, 2020”

AP: “‘You Are a Miracle’: Home Care Is New Front in Virus Fight”

“‘You Are a Miracle’: Home Care Is New Front in Virus Fight,” proclaims the headline in an AP article recently published in the New York Times, noting that “home health care is becoming a new front in the national fight against COVID-19 as some patients come back from hospitals and others strive to stay out of them.”

As COVID-19 patients become medically stable, hospitals look to home care for continued care and monitoring to keep patients safe and prevent a recurrent hospitalization, including services provided by HCA members featured in the article: Americare and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 26, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending April 26.

This is a weekly digest of new updates as well as briefs that may have already been provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week.

To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here). Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 26, 2020”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 19, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending April 19. This is a weekly digest including updates already provided to home and community-based organizations via e-mail alert throughout the past week. To catch up on all COVID-19 updates, see the news feed on our “home care prepare” website (here), including our resource page with COVID-19 regulatory waivers, guidance and more (here).

Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 19, 2020”

NY Has Allowed Medicaid Home Telehealth Flexibility to Keep Patients & Staff Safe in COVID-19; Washington Should Follow Suit for Medicare

A statement from HCA President Al Cardillo

“I greatly commend the New York State Department of Health for employing a broadly flexible and visionary use of telehealth through home health providers to promote patient care as well as worker and patient safety in the COVID-19 emergency.” Continue reading “NY Has Allowed Medicaid Home Telehealth Flexibility to Keep Patients & Staff Safe in COVID-19; Washington Should Follow Suit for Medicare”

HCA and Managed Care Organizations Write to Governor’s Office on PPE Plan

HCA has joined forces with four partner groups representing long term care and managed care organizations on a letter (see here) to the Cuomo Administration calling for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution and prioritization protocols inclusive of home care. We also sought approval of recommended measures to safely provide care where PPE or staffing are insufficient, such as the enlistment of alternate care providers, voluntary plan-of-care changes, and other flexibilities.

New Executive Order Requires Face Coverings

A new Executive Order going into effect today at 8 p.m. (see here) requires that all employees of “Essential Businesses” in New York State “shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public.”

Home care, as with other health care settings, has been defined as an “essential business” since early in the state’s emergency declaration; providers are, therefore, subject to the new requirement in the Governor’s Executive Order.

The state Department of Health (DOH) has issued a guidance for health care settings, defining “face covering” as including, but not limited to, “cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields.” Continue reading “New Executive Order Requires Face Coverings”

Providers Begin Receiving $30B in Emergency Funding from HHS, Plus Newly Suspended State Regs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has begun releasing emergency funds to health care providers today as part of the recently signed federal CARES Act.

Home care and hospice providers are included in the list of providers to receive funds. As of this morning, HCA members have already reported receiving electronic payments.

Continue reading “Providers Begin Receiving $30B in Emergency Funding from HHS, Plus Newly Suspended State Regs”

Oneonta Daily Star: Virus fears impact retention efforts by home care providers

“Fear of COVID-19 exposure is having an impact on the ability of home care agencies to find workers willing to go into patients homes, according to a statewide survey,” reports the Oneonta Daily Star on April 9. “The Home Care Association, a statewide umbrella group, said the survey also found many local provider agencies reported they have patients who are now rejecting care due to concerns about the virus.”

“These findings strongly support the need for priority access to supplies, like personal protective equipment, amid dangerous shortages and the absence of community-based providers from the prioritization lists when supplies are made available,” said Al Cardillo, the association’s president.

April (Phase II) Report: Home Care Provider Survey Examines Workforce, Supply, Financial Impacts of COVID-19 in NYS

The Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) has again surveyed home and community-based providers in New York State — at the COVID-19 epicenter — to learn more about specific impacts of the health emergency on home and community-based services delivered to nearly 900,000 New Yorkers. Our latest report is called Phase II COVID-19 Survey: Summary of Impact on Home and Community-Based Entities, Staff and Patients in New York State.

Our latest survey, finalized on April 6, further examines: the number of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases among home care staff and patients; what agencies are doing to cope with equipment shortages; percentage changes in patient counts due to COVID-19; the numbers (in ranges) of patients refusing care for fear of exposure; what agencies are doing in cases where patients are refusing care; projected financial impacts for the foreseeable future; and more.

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 5, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending April 5. 

HCA Continues to Press on PPE Needs, Prioritization

Severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to pose dangerous health and safety risks across all health care settings. A yet further constraint is the fact that the New York City Department of Health’s directives on supply prioritization have thus far categorically omitted home care and hospice.

HCA has raised these alarms repeatedly, in direct outreach to all levels of government and in the press.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending April 5, 2020”

New Medicaid Telehealth Q&As, Plus Updated Guidance on Personnel and COVID-19 Exposure

The state Department of Health has issued two new COVID-19 guidance documents.

One of these (dated March 31) replaces a prior guidance on protocols for personnel returning to work following COVID-19 exposure and infection (see here). It explains the conditions under which entities may allow health care personnel to return to work in the event they have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or have traveled internationally.

The other is a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on new Medicaid service and billing allowances through telehealth and telephonic means during the COVID-19 emergency (see here).

Continue reading “New Medicaid Telehealth Q&As, Plus Updated Guidance on Personnel and COVID-19 Exposure”

New CMS Waivers: Incremental Telehealth Flexibility, Plus Latitude on Homebound Requirement

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued some new regulatory waivers and flexibilities, including a very incremental allowance for home telehealth and important latitude on the “homebound” requirement. This information is here.

Congress, in the recently enacted CARES Act for coronavirus relief, called upon federal officials to “encourage” telehealth. CMS has responded in a limited fashion, based on our read of the latest CMS communication, determining that the law does not permit CMS to pay home health agencies for telehealth. (The state Medicaid program, meanwhile, has already provided much more flexibility in this regard for Medicaid services, as previously reported to the membership.)

The CMS change, circulated last night, ostensibly allows expanded telehealth as a means to reduce costs, but not as a service billable under Medicare. HCA is further analyzing the language, speaking with federal officials and partners, and preparing to redouble our efforts on more expansive telehealth permissions for service and billing.

Continue reading “New CMS Waivers: Incremental Telehealth Flexibility, Plus Latitude on Homebound Requirement”

Weekly COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29, 2020

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending March 29. 

CARES Act, NPP Authorization, and HCA’s Call for Permissive Implementation of Telehealth Provisions 

Congress passed, and the President signed, a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package. It includes a long-time priority of HCA and national organizations: allowing non-physician practitioners to order and refer for home care services. (HCA awaits further implementation information from federal administrators.)  Continue reading “Weekly COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29, 2020”

COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29

What follows are the most salient COVID-19 updates for HCA members as of the week ending March 29.

CARES Act, NPP Authorization, and HCA’s Call for Permissive Implementation of Telehealth Provisions 

Congress passed, and the President signed, a $2 trillion coronavirus aid package. It includes a long-time priority of HCA and national organizations: allowing non-physician practitioners to order and refer for home care services. (HCA awaits further implementation information from federal administrators.) Continue reading “COVID-19 Updates for the Week Ending March 29”

COVID-19 Impact on Home Care by the Numbers

HCA last week shared with state health officials the findings of a home care provider survey on COVID-19. It uncovered that the vast majority of home and community-based providers (68%) do not have access to adequate personal protective equipment in their COVID-19 response.

Almost half (48%) report instances where patients and/or family members refuse entry of staff in the home due to concerns about the virus at a time when home health agencies are working vigorously to screen caregivers and patients alike for the safety of both.

Continue reading “COVID-19 Impact on Home Care by the Numbers”

New COVID-19 Telehealth Guidance More Explicitly References Home Care 

The state Department of Health (DOH) has updated its previous Medicaid Update on COVID-19 telehealth/telephonic billing and services allowances to more explicitly include home care and each discipline within home care following multiple appeals from HCA.

The new Medicaid Update, dated March 23, is here and may undergo future updates that providers should watch for. Continue reading “New COVID-19 Telehealth Guidance More Explicitly References Home Care “

State Medicaid Guidance Authorizes Telehealth, Telephonic Services and Billing for COVID-19 Emergency

A special edition of the state’s Medicaid Update issued last night (see here) includes a guidance broadly expanding the use of telehealth, telephonic services and other communications methods by Medicaid providers during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Effective for dates of service after March 1, and for the duration of the state of emergency, “New York State Medicaid will reimburse telephonic assessment, monitoring, and evaluation and management services provided to members in cases where face-to-face visits may not be recommended and it is appropriate for the member to be evaluated and managed by telephone.” HCA has confirmed with DOH officials that the guidance applies to Article 36 home care providers.

Continue reading “State Medicaid Guidance Authorizes Telehealth, Telephonic Services and Billing for COVID-19 Emergency”

March (Phase I) Report: Home Care Needs Priority Supplies, Regulatory Flexibility & Emergency Aid for COVID-19 Response

In a just-completed HCA survey on the COVID-19 crisis, nearly 300 home care providers in every region of New York State report that they collectively serve more than 14,100 priority level 1 patients in the community. These are patients who, without home care, would face a rapid, immediately life-threatening deterioration in their existing health condition or would need to be transferred to another setting, such as hospitals or nursing homes already stretched to capacity. Many of these most at-risk patients are homebound, or dependent on technology or ventilators, with severe life-limiting conditions. Continue reading “March (Phase I) Report: Home Care Needs Priority Supplies, Regulatory Flexibility & Emergency Aid for COVID-19 Response”

COVID-19: Respond Now on Survey for Urgent DOH Assistance Request

Discussions have escalated in the last 24 hours on long-sought state COVID-19 guidance and assistance for home care and hospice. Throughout the weekend, HCA has again discussed with state officials a list of pressing requests for regulatory relief waivers, priority access to supplies, procedural guidance, and financial support to help providers amid the pandemic.

A just-released Dear Administrator Letter for Certified Home Health Agencies and Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (see here) provides some information on screening of patients and staff, as well as on the responsibilities of personnel in observing patients at home. It followed another guidance, sent earlier today (see here), with regulatory guidance for 1915(c) waiver programs (addressed to providers serving children and youth under the Children’s Waiver). Continue reading “COVID-19: Respond Now on Survey for Urgent DOH Assistance Request”

MRT Reviews Detailed Slate of Proposals for Consideration

The Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) met today in New York City for a second time to review a consolidated list of proposals from among over 2,200 submissions by the public.

The dozens of proposed recommendations discussed today were wide ranging, such as: changes to the global cap methodology; program integrity provisions; health information technology reforms; new approaches to care management, social determinants of health, transportation, and workforce supports; revenue raisers (such as insurance and health care taxes); and program-specific structural, enrollment, procedural or payment recommendations for various sectors, including additional proposals advanced by a long term care advisory committee. 

Many of these areas would touch the home care, hospice and Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) provider and plan infrastructure in a variety of ways. Continue reading “MRT Reviews Detailed Slate of Proposals for Consideration”

Deadline Extended to March 12 for HCA 2020 Awards Nominations

HCA has extended the deadline to March 12 for our 2020 awards nominations. Don’t miss this opportunity to recognize an exceptional colleague or staff member at your organization.

Our award categories invite nominations for all staff roles, from front-line caregivers to prominent leaders in the field, from physician champions of community-based care to the most ardent advocates and program innovators. Awards are presented at HCA’s Annual Conference on May 6-8 in Saratoga Springs.

To learn more and make your nomination, use our online questionnaire here.

If you have any questions or want to e-mail information directly to HCA, please contact Jenny Kerbein at jkerbein@hcanys.org or (518) 810-0659.

Your nomination helps shine a light on home care’s most talented, honorable and commendable individuals. Their stories help bring visibility to what home care is, how it works, how it helps, and what makes it great. Please help tell this story in all of its many unique, individual ways, and join us in celebrating home care’s leading lights.

Coronavirus Planning for Home Care, Hospice

“No one should be surprised when we have positive cases” of novel coronavirus in New York State, remarked Governor Cuomo yesterday about the illness that has spread rapidly from its initial origins in China.

COVID-19 has now reached 37 countries, including 60 confirmed cases in the U.S. (at the time of this writing), with one case (announced yesterday) involving a person who “did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While 83 people have been reportedly quarantined on a voluntary basis in Nassau County, there are no as-of-yet confirmed cases of the virus in New York State to date, according to reports. Yet national public health officials have warned of possible “community spread” in the future, the importance of preparation for such an event, and the prospect of future containment measures by public health or preparedness officials. Continue reading “Coronavirus Planning for Home Care, Hospice”

Governor: Feds Deny $8B DSRIP Extension

In a press conference today, Governor Cuomo announced that the federal government has denied New York’s request to continue the multi-billion-dollar Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.

This means the state will be unable to use $625 million in unspent funds for the current $7.4 billion DSRIP waiver, as sought in a request to extend the program through March 2021. Also denied is a second phase of DSRIP, which would have provided $8 billion in federal reinvestment funds also sought by the Cuomo Administration through 2024.

Continue reading “Governor: Feds Deny $8B DSRIP Extension”

HCA Presents Testimony as Senate, Assembly Panel Examines Medicaid Budget

A Senate and Assembly joint legislative committee convened today in Albany for a hearing examining the Governor’s state Medicaid budget proposals.

HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo submitted testimony, available here. It explains the vital role of home and community care, Medicaid budget trends involving home and community care (including new obligations and responsibilities on plans and providers), as well as HCA’s recommendations for offsetting Medicaid costs in place of cuts to assure the viability of vital programs and services. Continue reading “HCA Presents Testimony as Senate, Assembly Panel Examines Medicaid Budget”

A Statement from HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo Regarding Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Budget

The Governor today proposed a sequel to the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) process of 2011 as an approach to restructuring Medicaid and ensuring its long-term sustainability.

HCA understands the magnitude and seriousness of New York’s budget circumstances. This is why we have already presented the Governor’s office and Legislature with ready proposals to support Medicaid cost efficiencies and relief.

These cost offsets and reforms merit a voice at the MRT table. They leverage the capabilities of New York’s home and community-based care system to save millions of dollars through improved coordination of Medicare-Medicaid covered benefits, avoidance of higher-cost service utilization, enhancements in chronic disease management, efficient care transitions and direct cost-control and efficiency reforms. Continue reading “A Statement from HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo Regarding Governor Cuomo’s Proposed Budget”

HHCN Quotes HCA on “Extremely Alarming” Budget Cuts

Home Health Care News reports on the state’s 1% across-the board cuts to Medicaid. These come at a time when home care providers have not had a Medicaid cost-of-living rate adjustment in 10 years, and as providers operate on wafer-thin margins or losses in the majority of cases.

“In that light, this 1% reduction is extremely alarming,” HCA says in the article; and the cuts’ “timing, just before the release of a new budget proposal in only a few weeks, is a harbinger of just how serious the state’s fiscal outlook is — and what else is yet to come amid a projected $6 billion deficit.”

Year-End Message From Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker to Home Care, Hospice

 

On behalf of HCA and the membership, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D. has provided a meaningful and poignant year-end video message to home care and hospice providers.

“As we turn the calendar from 2019 to 2020, I extend warm thanks and appreciation to the many individuals delivering vital care at home to over half a million New Yorkers,” says Dr. Zucker.

He adds: “I also commend the Home Care Association of New York State for supporting this work through its mission: to ‘promote and enhance the quality and accessibility of health care and support at home.’”

HCA has posted the video to Facebook and YouTube. HCA members, colleagues and all organizations with Facebook accounts are strongly urged to share the video as widely as possible. In doing so, please join HCA in returning the thanks to Dr. Zucker for such powerful sentiments about the important work we do in community-based care.

Medicare Providers Must Sign Required MOA: Delinquencies Reported to CMS after Dec. 31

Livanta, the new Medicare Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC-QIO), reports to HCA that many health care providers, including home health and hospice providers, have not signed a required Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) mandated of Medicare providers under Section 1866(a)(1)(E) of the Social Security Act.

Providers in New York were required to sign the MOA by June 8, 2019. Livanta has set a deadline of December 31, 2019 after which “instances of non-compliance will be reported to CMS,” Livanta states.

HCA has written about this requirement in our weekly newsletter, most recently on October 28, 2019, noting that 92 percent of home health agencies and 95 percent of hospices have not submitted the required form.

In the latest update, Livanta explains that unless you received an e-mail confirmation from the BFCC-QIO on October 1, 2019, your organization’s MOA has not been received. It is urgent that all Medicare providers complete this requirement of the Conditions of Participation (CoPs).

We also stress that all previously signed agreements were invalid as of June 7, 2019, so a new MOA must be completed if you have not done so already for this present period. Information about Livanta’s MOA process is available in this flyer or see the following web pages:

If you have any questions, please contact the Livanta Communications team here.

HCA Op-Ed: Home health aides are the eyes and ears of more than 500,000 NY patients

“Home health agencies provide interdisciplinary health care to individuals at home,” writes HCA President Al Cardillo in a viewpoint piece for the Legislative Gazette. “You may be familiar with some forms of this care. Thousands of exceptional people with specialized training make it happen, working together to overcome countless medical, social and environmental hurdles in too-often untold ways.”

Read the piece here.

Winter Storm Season Alert Posted

The state Department of Health (DOH) has posted information on the actions that providers should take to prepare for the upcoming winter weather season. See here.

DOH recommends that all facilities and agencies review their Emergency Response and Evacuation Plans to ensure procedures are up to date and understood by staff and that contact information for all key staff and response partners is current. Providers should be ready to activate these plans when needed. Continue reading “Winter Storm Season Alert Posted”

News10 WTEN Examines Local Tragedy, Sepsis and Home Care

With sad and tragic news this week of a young boy passing from sepsis in Cohoes, NY, the Capital Region’s ABC affiliate, News 10 WTEN, spoke to HCA and medical experts on Tuesday about sepsis, including a bill that passed the State Legislature in June to support the work of home care providers in screening for this deadly condition.

“Our goal, particularly with the home health system, is to work not only to monitor, but teach the individual and the family what to look for and how to prevent” sepsis, said HCA President Al Cardillo in the interview. Watch the clip here and learn more about the legislation here. The bill (S.1817/A.3839) awaits action by the Governor.

Eight Top Legal, Compliance Experts Lead October 17 HCA Symposium 

“If you think compliance is expensive, try non-compliance,” former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty once wisely observed.

The toll is not just financial: as in government fines or penalties, civil liabilities, legal or recovery costs, or loss of licensure/operational privileges, which are bad enough. Noncompliance costs can also be counted in the form of grave reputational risks to your organization, straining or ruining relationships with referral sources or contractors at a time when state policies are imposing even greater restrictions and obligations on network contracts.

Most at stake is your hard-won trust with patients in the community.

HCA’s flagship Corporate Compliance Symposium provides your compliance officers and executive teams with the tools, resources, information and guidelines to overcome these risks. This includes procedural best-practices for self-auditing, so that your own internal investigations can detect pitfalls instead of government or law enforcement doing so on your behalf, and at great expense to your organization.

Each session covers prominent compliance issues by eight highly esteemed legal and compliance minds, all available to you at one time and one place. Don’t miss out.

September is Sepsis Month: Thousands Now Screened by Home Care RNs for Life-Threatening Sepsis Using Innovative Tool

Everything you need to know about sepsis detection protocols that are saving lives and reducing costs through home care — plus next steps for broader application (www.stopsepsisathomeny.org)  

September is “Sepsis Awareness Month,” and the Home Care Association of New York State’s national-first sepsis screening program for home care nurses and providers is making major strides in addressing this medical emergency — sepsis — a condition that claims a life every two minutes (according to Sepsis Alliance) and is more likely to occur in the home and community than in a hospital.

“Data suggests that 80% to 90% of sepsis cases actually originate in the home or community,” says HCA President and CEO Al Cardillo. “This fact alone is one of many reasons why home care’s involvement in sepsis screening is so vital, and why protocols, like HCA’s program, are incredibly important when it comes to improving outcomes and saving lives in a home care population that is especially vulnerable. All sectors of the health care system have a responsibility to intervene — and, wherever possible, prevent — the tragic loss of life, morbidity and life-altering effects of this condition. The home care system is especially equipped to do so.” Continue reading “September is Sepsis Month: Thousands Now Screened by Home Care RNs for Life-Threatening Sepsis Using Innovative Tool”

HCA, Partners Assert 1115 Waiver Recommendations 

Today, HCA and six other prominent health care associations wrote to the state’s Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services Paul Francis with core recommendations and key amendments that the state should consider in its multi-billion-dollar 1115 Medicaid waiver renewal process. (See the letter here.)

Section 1115 of the Social Security Act gives the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to approve state-level experiments, pilots, or demonstration projects in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs.

Continue reading “HCA, Partners Assert 1115 Waiver Recommendations “

RFI Response: HCA Makes Recommendations on Home Health, Hospice Regulatory Relief to CMS

In response to an RFI soliciting public comments on regulatory relief, HCA on Monday provided the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with a set of recommendations to ease home care and hospice regulations.

Our recommendations include such areas as the retrieval of records, use of actual patients (versus pseudo-patients) in aide competency evaluations, coordination of documentation requirements with physicians, and a range of other proposals that, we believe, will align with CMS’s aim to make the health care system more effective, simple and accessible.

Prepare Now for Emergency Drill to be Held Next Week  

Sometime next week, without advance notice, the state Department of Health (DOH) will hold an Interoperable Communications (IOC) drill for the entire state.

However, the drill will take place on a rolling basis in staggered stages. As mentioned previously, the IOC drill will be targeted to home care, hospice and other providers across the entire state; though voluntary, it can be used to fulfill federal and/or state requirements for agencies to hold emergency preparedness exercises.

Continue reading “Prepare Now for Emergency Drill to be Held Next Week  “

HCA DATA: 1,000s of Data Points for Your Home Care, Hospice, MLTC Business Planning

 

HCA holds a vast repository of over 100 reports – and thousands of home care, hospice and MLTC data cells – available exclusively to HCA members through our web-based HCA DATA platform.

These reports provide a major advantage for HCA members in their business and operations planning. They support and inform your financial benchmarking, local market analysis, strategic plan development, contract negotiations, consulting work, and many more functions across various departments.

Through HCA Data, you’ll find everything from big picture trends on statewide home care financial performance to operational data on every individual CHHA, MLTC, LHCSA and Hospice in the state. This data includes operating revenues and expenses across payors, cost factors for salaries and wages, payor mix, visit totals by discipline, caseload capacity by county, unit costs, medical expense ratios, live discharge data (for hospice), and many more items.

Give your CFOs, financial managers, chief strategy officers, operations managers and business planners the keys to this powerful resources today. Learn more and obtain an account here today!

 

 

Home Care Responds to NYC-Area Power Outage, Heat Wave

New York City home care agencies put their emergency preparedness plans into action earlier this month during two July power outages that left tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the dark on two consecutive weekends: on July 14 and July 21.

Nurses, home health aides and other home care personnel play a vital role for patients during emergencies like these — just as they provide critical supports to vulnerable populations at home each day. This includes New Yorkers who are among the 2.5 million individuals nationally relying on home medical equipment, like in-home respiratory ventilators, that require reliable power to function.

Home care providers have plans in place to assist these and other patients living at home who are vulnerable to heat-related illness or environmental conditions during a disaster, especially a situation like the recent power outages coinciding with a wave of near-record high temperatures that gripped the metropolitan region.

Learn more by reading our recent blog post here.

Write Congress NOW: S.433/H.R. 2573 Imperative as Home Care Faces 8% Cuts

“Your action to protect New York’s Medicare home health system (S.433/H.R. 2573) just reached a dramatically new level of urgency,” says an advocacy campaign message posted today on HCA’s Legislative Action Center.

Please send this message to Congress now, and share this action item widely with your staff and colleagues so that they act as well. It takes less than a minute of your time. Continue reading “Write Congress NOW: S.433/H.R. 2573 Imperative as Home Care Faces 8% Cuts”

HCA’s Sepsis, In-Service Bills Pass Both Houses

The state Legislature remains in session at the time of this writing to consider a range of final bills, with an expected adjournment sometime tomorrow, according to reports.

Two HCA bills cleared both houses this week with votes in the Assembly yesterday following earlier passage in the Senate. They include HCA’s aide in-service tracking bill and our sepsis legislation.

HCA also participated in a press conference and media outreach yesterday, along with representatives from 20 other community-based provider associations and Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, on a third bill related to health care transformation funds. Continue reading “HCA’s Sepsis, In-Service Bills Pass Both Houses”

HCA’s Stop Sepsis at Home Initiative to Receive 2019 Sepsis Hero Award

HCA is receiving one of five Sepsis Heroes awards from Sepsis Alliance in recognition of our Stop Sepsis at Home initiative.

The award honors “Sepsis Heroes who have made a significant contribution to sepsis awareness and education among both the general public and health care professionals.” Awards are presented at an annual gala in New York City on September 12 during Sepsis Awareness Month. Learn more about the event here.

HCA’s Stop Sepsis at Home initiative has been adopted in 55 of New York’s counties where nurses are using the screening tool to potentially identify life-threatening cases of sepsis and help triage follow-up protocols.

HCA thanks Sepsis Alliance for this recognition, and we hope it elevates the importance of this initiative for the 80% of home care cases that originate in the home and community-based setting.

HCA Appoints Rebecca Fuller Gray to Executive Role

National home care, hospice expert brings unmatched experience and skills to HCA

HCA President Al Cardillo and the HCA Board proudly and enthusiastically announce the appointment of state and national home care expert Rebecca Fuller Gray as HCA’s new Executive Vice President for Clinical and Program Affairs. Ms. Gray starts her position on May 1.

Continue reading “HCA Appoints Rebecca Fuller Gray to Executive Role”

State DOL Employee Scheduling Rule Put on Hold

HCA has learned that the “Employee Scheduling” rule, which was proposed by the state Department of Labor (DOL), will not be promulgated at this time, due to comments raised by HCA and other organizations who argued that the approach was impracticable to certain industries or sectors, like home care and hospice.

The rule, first proposed on November 22, 2017 and then revised on December 12, 2018, would have required employers to pay additional hours for “unscheduled shifts,” “cancelled shifts,” “on-call” and “call for schedule.” HCA had argued that the proposal was incompatible with how care at home is delivered, where hours are started, increased, decreased or eliminated due to reasons unique to home care and hospice and their patients, and beyond the control of the employer.

Continue reading “State DOL Employee Scheduling Rule Put on Hold”

HCA Testimony on the State Budget

At today’s health and Medicaid budget hearing, HCA President Al Cardillo delivered testimony revealing the financing, workforce and overall support needs of the home care, hospice and Managed Long Term Care sector using data from our just-issued financial and trends report.