In The News

Protect Hospice Payments and Access to End-of-Life Care!

From NHPCO

As you may have seen, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a draft rule in April which proposes updates to the hospice wage index, payment rates, and aggregate cap amount for the coming fiscal year. For the hospice payment update percentage for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), CMS is only proposing an increase of 2.7%.
 
We know that hospices around the country have been facing unprecedented challenges and heightened costs over the last few years, with no real respite in sight. New data released today showed a historically high inflation rate of 9.1% in June. Energy prices, including gas, are up 41.6% for the year, the largest 12-month increase since April 1980. We know this hits hospices particularly hard, as staff drive to patients to meet their needs at home. 

This 2.7% proposal by CMS fails to acknowledge the reality that many hospices are experiencing. Additionally, hospices are now facing a 2% Medicare payment reduction due to the sequestration cut that went into effect on July 1. All of this means that hospices are effectively facing a payment cut and being asked to do less with more.

[NHPCO] and HAN sent a letter joined by several other organizations to Congressional leadership, urging them to call on CMS to provide a more appropriate hospice payment rate increase in their FY23 final rule. 

This proposal by CMS could have detrimental consequences. It may force some hospices to close and jeopardize access to necessary, high quality end-of-life care for individuals who need it. As a hospice and palliative care advocate, we need your help to raise the alarm about this. 

[Please] take a minute to complete our action alert: https://www.hospiceactionnetwork.org/take-action/#/66

 

Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Webinar

This Wednesday, July 20th at 2:00 p.m. the Home Care and Hospice Association of Colorado is partnering with RoundPeg to provide a 30 minute informational webinar discussing the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).

Google Meet joining info.

Video call link: https://meet.google.com/yie-qmja-yxa

Or dial: ‪(US) +1 435-893-6102 PIN: ‪840 649 482#

 

Paradigm Senior Services

Did you know:

  • VA reimbursements rates for Homemaker/HHA and Respite are $29.76 in Utah
  • VA invoices are now paid by TriWest in less than 3 weeks
  • The VA usually authorizes between 6 and 16 hours of care per week, but they could go up to 168 hours per week. 
  • The standard VA referral is valid for 1 year and can be renewed indefinitely. 
  • The VA Community Care Network, while once overlooked, has become a vital part of providing care to veterans throughout our communities

There has been a lot of talk about one of HHAC's newest Allied Partners, Paradigm, in the home care industry. Thousands of providers already using Paradigm have seen terrific results in streamlining and growing their businesses. 

But who and what is Paradigm?

Paradigm provides an all-encompassing support platform for providers who work with the VA, Medicaid, and other 3rd party payers. By streamlining your operations, automating your billing, diversifying your payer lines, and collecting your outstanding AR, Paradigm helps you grow your business.

  • · Are you struggling to submit error-free billing?
  • · Are you spending too much time on denied claims and resubmissions?
  • · Are you struggling to stay on top of regulatory changes?
  • · Are you getting nowhere trying to get into the VA’s Community Care Network?
  • · Are you struggling to recover any outstanding VA accounts receivables?
  • · Are you confused about shifting EVV requirements?

Paradigm can help! 

If you’d like to learn more, click here to set up a time with one of Paradigm’s experts or contact Matt Hecht, Director of Provider Network, directly at email ([email protected]) or phone (786) 579-1900. 

 

Senate Democrats Encounter Obstacles in Final Sprint

The Hill | BY ALEXANDER BOLTON - 07/12/22
 
Senate Democrats in a sprint to accomplish as much as they can before the August recess and the start of the fall midterm campaigns are already getting tripped up by a series of unexpected problems. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced progress over the July 4 recess in negotiations with centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on a long-delayed budget reconciliation package, but an aide to Manchin last week cautioned a deal is still not close.  
 
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is holding up a vote on a China competitiveness bill, while legislation to cap insulin prices is coming under fire from Republicans.  
 
Health absences in the caucus are also tripping up the party, complicating votes in the 50-50 Senate.
 
It all sets up a chaotic and challenging homestretch sprint before lawmakers turn to full campaign mode. 
 
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) on Monday predicted that the Democratic absences would limit the chamber’s agenda this week.  
 
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 and will work remotely this week, missing an expected vote on President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steve Dettelbach.  
 
The announcement came less than 24 hours after Schumer announced that he too has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss votes this week.  
 
“They’re not going to have votes to do anything but bipartisan noms [nominees],” Thune said.
 
“It’s going to be tough for the Democrats to manage any kind of agenda that doesn’t entail moving executive branch noms that have broad bipartisan support, so to me it should be a week where we wind up early,” he added.  
 
The absences put Dettelbach’s nomination on a razor’s edge, as only two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rob Portman (Ohio), voted to discharge Dettelbach out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  
 
A third Democratic senator, 82-year-old Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), is recovering from surgery after falling and breaking his hip last month. A spokesman for Leahy, however, said his boss will be available to vote on Dettelbach or any other issue if needed. 
 
“Senator Leahy’s recovery and physical therapy are proceeding well and he expects to be available for votes this week if necessary,” said Leahy spokesman David Carle.   
 
If Collins and Portman both vote to confirm Dettelbach, there would need to be five Democratic absences for Republicans to defeat him, but it remains to be seen whether their votes on a procedural discharge petition mean they’re willing to help speed him through the Senate while Schumer is still trying to negotiate a partisan reconciliation bill.  
 
McConnell warned over the recess that he would hold up the final version of the China legislation, known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), unless Democrats stopped trying to move a reconciliation measure through the chamber with just Democratic votes. 
 
The GOP leader doubled down on his threat Monday, warning that “party-line scheming” on the budget reconciliation bill that would include hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases would bring Senate business to a halt. 

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Why the Omicron Offshoot BA.5 is a Big Deal

CNN | By Brenda Goodman

Once again, Covid-19 seems to be everywhere. If you feel caught off-guard, you aren't alone.

After the Omicron tidal wave washed over the United States in January and the smaller rise in cases in the spring caused by the BA.2 subvariant, it might have seemed like the coronavirus could be ignored for a while. After all, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in December that nearly all Americans had been vaccinated or have antibodies from a past infection. Surely all that immunity bought some breathing room.

But suddenly, many people who had recovered from Covid-19 as recently as March or April found themselves exhausted, coughing and staring at two red lines on a rapid test. How could this be happening again -- and so soon?

The culprit this time is yet another Omicron offshoot, BA.5. It has three key mutations in its spike protein that make it both better at infecting our cells and more adept at slipping past our immune defenses.

 

In just over two months, BA.5 outcompeted its predecessors to become the dominant cause of Covid-19 in the United States. Last week, this subvariant caused almost 2 out of every 3 new Covid-19 infections in this country, according to the latest data from the CDC.

Lab studies of antibodies from the blood of people who've been vaccinated or recovered from recent Covid-19 infections have looked at how well they stand up to BA.5, and this subvariant can outmaneuver them. So people who've had Covid as recently as winter or even spring may again be vulnerable to the virus.

 

"We do not know about the clinical severity of BA.4 and BA.5 in comparison to our other Omicron subvariants," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House Covid-19 Response Team briefing Tuesday. "But we do know it to be more transmissible and more immune-evading. People with prior infection, even with BA.1 and BA.2, are likely still at risk for BA.4 or BA.5."

A 'full-on' wave

The result is that we're getting sick in droves. As Americans have switched to more rapid at-home tests, official case counts -- currently hovering around 110,000 new infections a day -- reflect just a fraction of the true disease burden

"We estimate that for every reported case there are 7 unreported," Ali Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, wrote in an email.

Other experts think the wave could be as much as 10 times higher than what's being reported now.

"We're looking at probably close to a million new cases a day," Dr. Peter Hotez said Monday on CNN. "This is a full-on BA.5 wave that we're experiencing this summer. It's actually looking worse in the Southern states, just like 2020, just like 2021," said Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

That puts us in the range of cases reported during the first Omicron wave, in January. Remember when it seemed like everyone everywhere got sick at the same time? That's the situation in the United States again.

It may not seem like a very big deal, because vaccines and better treatments have dramatically cut the risk of death from Covid-19. Still, about 300 to 350 people are dying on average each day from Covid-19, enough to fill a large passenger jet…

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