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No Delay: New Medicare Conditions of Participation Begin January 13


The implementation date for Medicare Home Health Conditions of Participation (HH CoPs) will NOT be delayed, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This means agencies are expected to be fully compliant with the updated standards during surveys conducted on or after January 13. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) had requested an extension from CMS to delay the effective date until at least July 13.

In a NAHC Report article on November 17, CMS was referenced as giving several reasons for not issuing a further delay.

Agencies have time to shore up last minute preparations, and are advised to use the Conditions of Participation Final Rule as their measure for compliance. CMS is giving surveying agencies some leeway. Agencies should make a priority of ensuring standards that directly relate to patient care and safety are addressed and finalized first. Staff members, including direct employees, contracted staff and volunteers, should be trained on applicable policies and procedures.

While there may be some uncertainty regarding proper procedures since final interpretive guidance will not be available before January 13, CMS has advised that the Final Rule and its comments should be used to guide surveyors, rather than the interpretive guidance. According to the Illinois Homecare and Hospice Council (IHHC), surveyors are being directed to use the draft interpretive guidelines (IGs) until the final guidelines are released. The interpretive guidelines are used to clarify standards as outlined in the final rule, but a January 5 email sent by IHHC notes: “CMS reminds industry surveyors and providers that the actual text of the CoPs is what agencies must comply with – and what should control survey determinations – not the IGs.” The IHHC also shared that agencies may contact their CMS regional office to lodge complaints regarding a surveyor erroneously determining non-compliance in the absence of final IGs or relying on the draft IGs.

As we fast approach the January 13 CoP implementation date, continue to focus remaining preparations on the CoP regulation while we await the final interpretive guidelines.  Also work with your software vendor to learn the Co- related upgrades to their system and train your staff to ensure your organization continues to remain compliant.

For more information regarding the implementation of the Conditions of Participation, go to Axxess’ complimentary on-demand training videos or our library of CoP blog content.

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