Spring is finally here, even if it doesn’t feel like it in some areas of the country. Today we will be talking about the issues surrounding the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) for home health agencies. We will also do a session on Hospice in the next Monday Minute.   

The Public Health Emergency was confirmed as ending on May 11, 2023, which means that many of the 1135 waivers issued back in February will come to an end at that time. We did a Monday Minute discussing this announcement and highlighting what it means, but now I want to go into more detail with some specifics. Also coming up near the end of April or beginning of May is a blog post that will provide very clear and specific information about this Public Health Emergency situation coming to an end.  

The 1135 waivers have been a great help for home health agencies, but many of them will soon be ending without congressional action or legislative changes to make them permanent. This means that agencies must prepare for the elimination of key components such as OASIS/Comprehensive Assessment completion, which has been waived during the Public Health Emergency, but will again be required to be completed within five days. Additionally, transmission of OASIS documents to the database must also be completed within 30 days, returning to the pre-pandemic requirement. Therefore, it is essential for home health agencies to plan appropriately and ensure that all necessary components meet regulations.  

During the PHE there was a relaxation of HIPAA regulations that allowed for agencies to utilize software systems such as Skype for providing telehealth services, which would not have been compliant in the past. This allowance extended to all telehealth services, and with the end of the PHE in May, those seeking to take advantage of such services must ensure that HIPAA compliance is maintained. Fortunately, telehealth services will still be available for face-to-face encounters through December 31, 2024Face-to-Face encounters via telehealth must be conducted with audio and video components and that must be documented in the providers documentation.   Agencies are still permitted to provide permanent telehealth services as part of patient care plans, yet they must remain compliant with all aspects of HIPAA regulations.  

Following the end of the Public Health Emergency in May, home health aides must comply with a 12-hour education requirement beginning January 1, 2024. This waiver allows aides not to be compliant with the 12hour education through the end of the calendar year that follows the end of the Public Health Emergency. The required home health aides skilled supervisory visit every two weeks will resume on May 12. 

The end of the Public Health Emergency marks an important milestone for home health agencies, and a return to compliance with regulations previously waived during the pandemic. Agencies must begin preparations now to avoid survey deficiencies or payment reductions due to noncompliance. It has been an incredibly difficult three years since the start of the pandemic, but with the end in sight it is time for home health agencies to face this challenge and ensure compliance with all necessary regulations.  

If Healthcare Provider Solutions can ever assist you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  

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