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New Bill Has Potential to Relieve Home Health Regulations

Posted on Monday, December 5, 2016 8:07 PM

The Medicare Home Health Flexibility Act of 2016 has the potential to conduct initial assessments for home health visits in certain cases. The bill’s goal is to release some restrictions during a time when the industry is facing burdensome regulations.

The bill would allow occupational therapists to handle the initial home health assessment for certain rehabilitation cases, including:
• If the referral is ordered by a physician when the order does not include skilled nursing care
• If it includes occupational therapy
• For cases that include physical therapy or speech language pathology

The bill was introduced by Senator Charles Boustany (R-LA 3rd District).

Currently, occupational therapists are allowed to conduct the initial home health assessment for therapy-only patients “for home occupational therapy ‘establishes eligibility,’” according to The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA).

“Occupational therapy can be a valuable resource to conduct the initial visits, increasing the number of available staff to conduct initial visits, addressing home safety issues earlier and identifying established routines to share with team members for improved participation by the patient in the plan of care,” the AOTA says on its website.

The bill has been hard-pressed for quite some time, due to the push for industry groups to have increased duties across the home health field. In some cases, regulations that require strict assessment and certifications processes are challenging for agencies. For example, some agencies in Illinois have discovered that getting a physician’s signature as part of the Pre-Claim Review Demonstration (PCRD) in a timely matter is extremely difficult.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed into law a bill that allows home health aides in the state who receive additional training to give medication to patients.

According to NYup.com, the state will still have to draft regulations that specify training requirements, and the law is limited to home health aides who have worked at least one year.

For the full article, click here.

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