Kaweah Delta Hospice hosts Congressional Staff

Mr. Rudy Mendoza (center) meets with Dena Cochran (Left) and Susan Buscaglia (right) of Kaweah Delta Hospice.

Mr. Rudy Mendoza from Congressman Devin Nunes’s office met with Susan Buscaglia, MSN, RN, CHPN, Director of Hospice Services, and Dena Cochran, VP of Development for Kaweah Delta Health Care District at the Kaweah Delta Hospice in Visalia, California. 

Susan used the template Introduction Letter to connect with Rep. Nunes’s office, and was able to get a meeting with a staffer right away! She reports that Mr. Mendoza was engaged and interested, particularly in learning more about the We Honor Veterans program, as well as the Rural Access to Hospice Act. 

 “Even though I was a bit hesitant to send the Introduction Letter, I did it because I am always looking for opportunities to talk about hospice and advocate for our services.” says Susan.  “I was very pleasantly surprised and gratified to have such a quick response from Mr. Mendoza.  It was a great experience”

Thank you to Kaweah Delta Hospice, and to Mr. Rudy Mendoza for taking the time to learn more about hospice!

Do you want to be featured on our blog? You can learn about inviting a Member of Congress to your program or requesting a meeting in our Advocacy Toolkit. Then, make sure you tell us about the meeting, and snap some pictures! For more information, feel free to email me!

MedPAC Report to Congress, March 2017 Edition

While millions of people across the Northeast are digging out from a late-winter snow storm, health policy professionals are digging into the annual Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s (MedPAC) “Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy.” Released every March, this report reviews payment policy across a variety of Medicare providers, including hospice.

The hospice chapter begins with an updated snapshot of the hospice industry. According to MedPAC, 1.38 million Medicare beneficiaries (or almost 49% of Medicare decedents) received hospice care in 2015 from 4,200 hospice providers. In that year, Medicare spent $15.9 billion on hospice care, up from $15.1 billion in 2014. However, Medicare spending on hospice care constituted less than 3% of overall Medicare spending.

This year’s chapter on hospice reflects the recommendation the Commission approved in January: “The Congress should eliminate the update to the hospice payment rates for fiscal year 2018.”  Don’t get alarmed just yet. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. MedPAC has made this same recommendation to Congress for the following fiscal year since at least 2013.
  2. Congress must take action for a MedPAC recommendation to be implemented. Congress has not taken action to implement this recommendation in recent years.
  3. CMS will likely be bound by the 2015 Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which mandated that the hospice payment update for FY 18 is limited to 1 percent, as we have reported in the past.
  4. Additional information about FY 2018 rates will be made available when CMS issues its annual hospice wage index update later this spring.

And you may remember that Congress has been rather busy lately. While Congress will certainly review the MedPAC report, they have many other priorities to address in the immediate future. HAN will continue to monitor any possible Congressional action based on MedPAC’s recommendation. If there are any developments, you can be sure to find updates on this blog!


Latest Policy Podcast

NHPCO’s Health Policy Team members, Jon Keyserling and Sharon Scribner Pearce, share their key takeaways from President Donald Trump’s first Joint Address to Congress. Learn more about what has been unfolding on the Hill, how it could impact the hospice community, and free resources that can help you become a better advocate for hospice.

Quick Links to Resources Mentioned in this Podcast

New Podcast: Hospice Quality Reporting

Originally posted on Ehospice.com/usa: 

A new episode of NHPCO’s Podcast looks at quality reporting with a focus on requirements coming into play for hospice providers.

Quality has long been about what you “should” be doing but now we’ve moved into an era of what you “have” to be doing. And now more than ever there needs to be a close collaboration between compliance and quality. The most immediate quality requirements must be in place in less than a month.

L to R: Carol Spence and Jennifer Kennedy get you up to speed on Quality Reporting.

In this episode of NHPCO’s Podcast, “Hospice Quality Reporting… Ready, Set, Go,” listeners will hear NHPCO’s Vice President of Research and Quality Carol Spence and Senior Director of Regulatory and Quality Jennifer Kennedy discuss the upcoming quality requirements and learn ways that providers can prepare.

HQRP Requirements

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determines the quality measures that hospices must utilize and the processes hospices must use to submit data for those measures. Hospices that fail to comply with HQRP requirements will incur a 2 percentage point reduction to the market basket percentage increase for the corresponding fiscal year.

Hospices are required to comply with requirements for two HQRP program components that comprise the data sources for the measures:

  • Hospice Item Set (HIS)… A component of the HQRP for the FY 2016 APU and subsequent years. HIS is a patient level data collection tool developed by CMS.  Hospices are required to submit an HIS-­Admission record and an HIS­-Discharge record for each patient.
  • CAHPS® Hospice Survey… A component of the HQRP for the FY 2017 APU and subsequent years. CAHPS Hospice is a post­death family caregiver survey developed by CMS for the assessment of patient and family experiences with hospice care.

NHPCO Podcasts
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