The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a six-month delay for home health agencies (HHAs) to implement the revised conditions of participation (CoPs) that HHAs must satisfy to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In January 2017, CMS issued a final rule revising the CoPs to be effective, with certain exceptions, on July 13, 2017. The new CoPs, discussed in detail in our previous alert, imposed additional responsibilities on HHAs related to patient rights, patient assessment and care planning, care coordination and integration, quality assessment and performance improvement, infection control, and recordkeeping.

CMS received comments from industry stakeholders asserting that HHAs were unable to effectively implement the new CoPs until CMS issued revised sub-regulatory guidance and citing the significant financial cost of implementing the new CoPs. Accordingly, CMS issued a proposal to delay the effective date of the new CoPs for six months. If the proposal is finalized, the effective date of most provisions of the new CoPs would be delayed until January 13, 2018. Additionally, those provisions of the new CoPs related to development and implementation of a quality assessment and performance improvement program, set to become effective on January 13, 2018, would be delayed until July 13, 2018.

CMS has requested comments on the proposed delay before the proposal is finalized. Comments are due on June 2, 2017 and we expect to learn whether the proposed delay will be implemented shortly thereafter. We also anticipate that CMS will issue updated sub-regulatory guidance prior to the effective date of the new CoPs.