In response to multiple requests, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) have extended the deadline for comments on the proposed changes to the home health conditions of participation (“CoPs”).  Home health providers and other interested stakeholders now have until 5:00 p.m. EST on January 7, 2015 to submit comments to CMS.

The proposed changes to the CoPs were published on October 9, 2014[1] and represent the most significant changes to the home health CoPs in seventeen years.  According to CMS, the new CoPs are intended to better reflect modern home health practice by acknowledging the interdisciplinary view of patient care and allowing home health agencies greater flexibility in meeting quality care standards.  The proposed changes include:

  • Enhanced and expanded patient rights requirements;
  • Changes to plan of care requirements and the process for transfer and discharge of patients;
  • New requirements for the development of Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (“QAPI”) programs; and
  • New requirements for infection prevention and control.

The 2013 Home Health Prospective Payment System final rule authorized CMS to impose intermediate sanctions on home health agencies that are found to be out of compliance with the CoPs.[2]  In addition to terminating a home health agency’s provider agreement, CMS may now impose alternative sanctions including, civil monetary penalties, suspension of payments for all new admissions, temporary management of the home health agency, directed plans of correction, and directed in-service training.[3]  In light of these potential sanctions, we urge home health agencies to closely review the proposed changes to the CoPs and consider how your organization will comply with the new requirements.  We also encourage home health agencies to respond to the various aspects of the proposed rule that CMS has specifically asked for comments on.