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Latest News from the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation
January/February 2016

Dear Members and Friends:

We hope you are having a wonderful winter thus far! On the heels of December’s Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) partnership announcement, the Alliance moved to Arlington at the end of last month. Updated contact information is available on the Alliance’s website.
 
As part of the Alliance and VNAA partnership, our organizations have already begun teaming up on new programming. This month marked the beginning of the jointly sponsored webinar series, “Home Health Value Based Purchasing: Preparing for Success.” Webinars are free for Alliance and VNAA members, and $55 for non-members. For members of state associations in the 9 states participating in the model (Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington) who are not currently members of the Alliance or VNAA, please contact the Alliance’s Director of Communications and Events, Jen Schiller, at jschiller@ahhqi.org as you may qualify for a discounted rate. The second webinar in the series will be this afternoon at 2 pm ET on the topic “Performance Improvement 101.” Click here to register.
 
Additionally, Alliance members receive a discount for the fast approaching VNAA Annual Meeting in April in Miami. Alliance members can contact Jen Schiller for the member discount code.
 
Finally, there is plenty of regulatory and sub-regulatory activity to keep all of us on our toes. See the “Latest Developments” section below for a run-down. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Accountable Health Communities Model, a five-year program which will focus on better aligning clinical and community-based services in an effort to improve health-based social needs of beneficiaries. CMS will host two different webinars on the Model application process. More information is available through CMS here, and in a New England Journal of Medicine article published January 7th here (subscription required). On a far less positive note, CMS also issued a notice on a new pilot to test prior authorization for home health services in select states. We will be discussing this pilot on upcoming work group calls.
 
If you’d like to learn more about the Alliance’s upcoming projects or events, I encourage everyone to reach out to me at tlee@ahhqi.org or (202) 239-3671 at any time.



Very Truly Yours,

Teresa L. Lee, J.D., M.P.H.
Executive Director

 
  • In January, the Senate Finance Committee’s Chronic Care Working Group released a draft set of policy options open for comment. The policy options document is available here. The Alliance submitted comments last month, available here, which focused on the role home health does and can play in caring for patients with chronic conditions, expansion of the Independence at Home demonstration, waiver of homebound in certain new models, opportunities for telehealth, quality measures, and more.
  • The final version Workshop Summary from last fall’s IOM/NRC “The Future of Home Health Care: A Workshop” is now available to download. The Workshop Summary contains a comprehensive write-up of the opinions expressed by speakers at the Fall 2014 workshop. Key themes raised in the summary include: need for better care transitions, increased and appropriate use of technology, new payment arrangements, a focus on bringing together community resources, workforce improvements, and more. The Summary can be downloaded on the IOM website here
  • The National Quality Forum just released their 2016 Final Recommendations to HHS and CMS. The first deliverable, available here, looked at 131 measures for 16 federal health programs. Measures included those relating to dyspnea in patients with heart failure, falls risk, drug regimen review, Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary, potentially avoidable 30-day readmissions, and discharge to community – the final three of which are required by the IMPACT Act of 2014. Only one did not receive a recommendation of encourage continued development, that relating to dyspnea. A version of the comments is available here.  
  • CMS issued a regulatory notice on a prior authorization for home health pilot that will target select states. The notice is available here.  
  • Additionally, Acumen released draft specifications for the Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary—Post-Acute Care (MSPB-PAC) resource use measures. The Alliance’s comments can be found here, and center on concerns about tracking cost in a vacuum
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  • Register now for the Alliance’s and VNAA’s next webinar, “Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Series: Performance Improvement 101” on February 17th at noon ET, part of the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing webinar series. The introductory session will identify models of performance improvement, and describe components of a robust performance improvement program. Issues such as putting together an effective quality improvement team, developing program metrics, and implementing performance improvement projects will be discussed. Registration is free for VNAA and Alliance members, $55 for non-members, and a discount is available for members of a VNAA member state association. Registration is available here, and stay tuned to our webinars page for upcoming webinar information: http://ahhqi.org/education/webinars
  • Alliance members can check out a replay of the Alliance’s 2015 Member Webinar on the Members Only portion of the website. On the call the Alliance introduced new Chairperson Kathleen Gilmartin and looked ahead to the future of the organization. Replay is available here.
  • The VNAA Annual Meeting is April 6th – 8th in Miami! Top home-based care executives and clinicians meet to share their successes and gain valuable insights from nationally known experts in the field. Keynote panels will feature healthcare’s most innovative thought leaders with 24 breakout sessions in six topic tracks. More then 70 vendors will be on hand offering a chance to connect on a range of home-based care products and services. Alliance members can register at the VNAA member using a discount code. Please contact the Alliance’s Director of Communications and Events, Jen Schiller, at jschiller@ahhqi.org.
  • On February 23rd, the Alliance will host the February edition of the #HomeHealthChat on Twitter with the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (@VNAA). Stay tuned to the Alliance's Twitter chat page for more info!
  • The Alliance (@AHHQI) hosted the January edition of the #HomeHealthChat on Twitter with co-host the Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio (@VNAOhio). The January chat focused on home health and home and mental illness. A full recap is available here. If you are interested in co-hosting an upcoming Twitter chat with the Alliance, please contact the Alliance’s Director of Communications and Events Jennifer Schiller at jschiller@ahhqi.org or (202) 239-3206.
Current research on major joint replacement points to successful uses of home health care as the post-acute care setting for patients. Merits of home-based care include reduced cost, improved clinical outcomes, and increased patient satisfaction. Now, with the recently introduced Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model, which will begin on April 1 of this year, home health sits at the forefront of providing cost-effective and high-quality patient care for patients following hip and knee replacements.
 
Read more here.
IMPACT is actually impacting Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) and Home Health Agencies
MedCity News, 2/8/16
“If ynurse primary careou’re not familiar with the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act yet, it’s time to get up to speed. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is moving forward with its implementation – and it could mean significant changes for post-acute facilities. In particular, nursing facilities and home health agencies could see changes around the use of quality rankings and how they discharge patients to other levels of care.”
To read more, click here.
 
Repeat After Me: 'Hospice Means More Care, Not Less.'
Huffington Post, 2/8/16
“I probably lost many readers just by having hospice in the title; hospice may be the most misunderstood thing in American health care. The mere mention of hospice crosses a line--for many it's synonymous with death or giving up hope. And, while hospice isn't related to highly controversial concepts like euthanasia or assisted suicide, it's sometimes confused for these radically different things. Misunderstanding and mistrust of hospice is leading to unnecessary suffering, quicker and uglier medical deterioration, and missed opportunities for better and occasionally longer lives for people with serious illness.”
To read more, click here.
 
New Bill Could Expand Home Health Telemedicine
Home Health Care News, 2/7/16
“A bipartisan bill that would expand telemedicine services and remote patient monitoring (RPM) through Medicare is making headway in Congress with a projected cost savings of $1.8 billion over the next decade. The legislation could also help cut down the 7.88 billion miles home care workers traveled in 2013 for patient visits.”
To read more, click here.
 
Home health care agencies battle snow, cold
Citizen-Times, 1/23/16
“For Michelle Webb and her clinical staff, the threat of extreme weather is always present, even on sunny days. When a snowstorm like the one that hit Western North Carolina Friday morning approaches, they rely on constant planning to provide patients with uninterrupted care.”
To read more, click here.
For the latest home health research, fact sheets, and value materials, visit www.ahhqi.org.
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