Hello everyone, and welcome to our Monday Minute. Today I would like to talk about a few things specifically related to the extension of the Public Health Emergency.

The Public Health Emergency was originally set to expire in January 2022. It is now received an additional 90-day extension into April. We are not surprised or shocked by this at all, as COVID has continued to wreak havoc across our nation and across the world. Honestly, we are not a bit surprised, the reality is however, there are things related to the Public Health Emergency that agencies, both Home Health and Hospice, need to keep in mind as we continue to progress through this Public Health Emergency. We do believe truly that this is going to end at some point, hopefully sooner than later. My fear is that we will get into the, or we have already gotten into, the routine of applying some of these waivers that will end when the Public Health Emergency ends.  My concern is, are we prepared for that. So, the Public Health Emergency waivers I feel like are also underutilized, meaning we’re not taking them into our agency as practice and helping ourselves by doing so.  One of those is specifically the waiver that allows therapists to do a start of care comprehensive assessment, even if nursing has been ordered. We have not seen a lot of agencies that have participated in that waiver, and we feel like that it could help agencies significantly if you did benefit from that.  However, we also have the opposite concern, and that is if you have begun that practice, are you prepared for that to end?  We feel strongly that there will be a point that the Public Health Emergency ends, that agencies will not realize that they have got to transition some of these things back to what it used to be, and that there will be issues with both payment, reimbursement, and medical review, etc. So you need to keep those things in mind.

You also need to keep in mind that as we continue in this Public Health Emergency, it is a federal Public Health Emergency and applicable to Medicare regulation. However, there are some of them that are linked to state regulation and if your state is not participating in what would be needed for you to follow through with that waiver, you will not be allowed to do so. While the Medicare regulation that now allows Home Health agencies to allow a Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant or Certified Nurse Specialist to sign orders for you as a Home Health agency, that is not a waiver. That is a permanent Medicare regulation. However, it is tied to state situations. We know many states throughout our country that had Public Health Emergency waivers in place that have now allowed those to expire and have not renewed those.  In some cases, those state waivers not being in place will prohibit agencies from participating in those federal waivers. So you want to make sure that you are on top of it as far as your state is concerned, and you understand fully how you’re impacted by those continuing waivers. Telehealth is one of the things that is included in those waivers and we’re going to talk a little bit more about that in our next Minute.

I hope you have a fabulous week and please stay strong as we continue to support you in caring for patients on the front lines of this Public Health Emergency. Stay close to your state and national homecare and hospice associations and be diligent about receiving the education that they are providing. Thank you and again have a fabulous week.

Don’t miss our next two HPS Alliance webinars Notice of Admission – HH Revenue Cycle Update January 27, 2022, and QAPI – Hospice Webinar February 24, 2022!