On November 6, 2014, CMS published a final rule to update the Medicare home health prospective payment system (HH PPS) for CY 2015. CMS estimates that the final rule will cut Medicare payments to home health agencies (HHAs) by 0.30%, or $60 million, in 2015. Specifically, while the rule provides a 2.1% home health payment update percentage ($390 million increase), that update is more than offset by a reduction of 2.4% ($450 million) attributable to a rebasing adjustment (the second year of a four-year phase-in). Under the final rule, the national standardized 60-day episode payment for CY 2015 is $2,961.38. 

The final rule also adopts a number of policy proposals. Notably, CMS is simplifying the home health face-to-face encounter documentation requirements, including eliminating the narrative as part of the certification of eligibility and providing more flexibility in procedures for obtaining documentation supporting patient eligibility. The final rule specifies that associated physician claims for certification/re-certification of eligibility will not be covered when a patient does not meet home health eligibility criteria. CMS also discusses comments it received on a potential HHA Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) model, under which CMS would test whether payment incentives would lead to higher quality of care for beneficiaries. CMS is considering testing such a model beginning in 2016; additional details will be provided in future rulemaking. The final rule also, among other things: recalibrates HH PPS case-mix weights; simplifies therapy reassessment timeframes; establishes a minimum OASIS assessment submission threshold; revises the speech-language pathology personnel conditions of participation; and places limitations on the reviewability of civil monetary penalties imposed for HHA noncompliance with federal participation requirements.