NHPCO Voices Hospice Priorities to Biden Administration

As Joe Biden prepares to launch his administration, hospice industry stakeholders are calling for stepped up vaccinations for staff, aid for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and extension of regulatory flexibilities implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.   The National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has written to Biden to push for hospice priorities as the […]

MEDPAC Votes to Slash Hospice Aggregate Payment Cap

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) has voted unanimously to eliminate the update to the Fiscal Year 2021 Medicare base payment rates for hospice for Fiscal Year 2022 and to cut by 20% the hospice aggregate cap.The payment cap is the upper limit to the amount of funds a hospice can collect from Medicare in […]

NAHC Analysis Shows Progress from Federal COVID Relief, but More Likely Needed

Programs established in the most recent COVID-19 relief legislation, passed in December, will go a long way to bolstering hospices that have taken operational and financial punches from the pandemic. A recent analysis from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice indicates that providers will likely need more support to ride out the continuing […]

Congress Members Call for Medicare Palliative Benefit

Members of the congressional physician’s caucus have written to U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to advocate for a Medicare palliative care benefit demonstration. Reps. Neal Dunn, M.D (R-Fla), Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Jeff VanDrew (D-N.J.), and Sen.-Elect Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) signed the letter.  CMS tests the viability and functionality […]

Omnibus Federal Spending Bill Contains Major Hospice Provisions

After much debate, the U.S. Congress approved Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which will keep the government running and fund federal agencies into the new year. The bill, which the president is expected to sign, includes hospice-specific line items intended to improve rural access to services and retool regulatory enforcement, as well as provide COVID-19 […]

Merida Group Owner Gets 20-Year Prison Sentence for Hospice Fraud

U.S. District Court Judge Rolanda Olvera ordered Rodney Mesquias, owner of the hospice and home health company Merida Group, to serve a 20-year  federal prison sentence as well as pay $120 million in restitution. San Antonio-based Merida Group operates dozens of locations throughout Texas. While false claims cases are relatively common in the hospice space. […]

HHS Distributes $24.5 Million in Relief Funds to Health Care Providers

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is distributing $24.5 billion to more than 70,000 health care providers nationwide following a review of the program’s Phase 3 applications. Thus far the agency has not indicated how much of those funds will be allocated to hospices. The CARES Act, enacted on March 27, earmarked […]

Federal Serious Illness Care Payment & Policy Could Change Under Biden

Payment models that could change under a new presidential administration have raised questions about the future business of hospice in 2021. Recent regulatory moves and the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic may be indicative of what’s to come for hospice and palliative care providers. The arrival of a new president during a national public […]

Geographic Direct Contracting: Where Hospice Fits

Through the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) forthcoming geographic direct contracting model, participating entities will step into the role of payer as well as provider, including responsibility for program integrity and utilization management. The best opportunity for hospices that wish to be involved would be to establish preferred provider relationships with direct […]

House Approves Bill to Update CMS Hospice Oversight

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act of 2019 (BENES). While the main focus of that bill relates to Medicare eligibility and enrollment, it would also change the frequency of regulatory hospice surveys to every two years instead of every three years, among other provisions. The legislation […]