Finally a Little Good NewsThe home health industry has been working to establish legislation to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other non-physician practitioners to certify home health care services for some time. Anyone who has worked in home health care knows it has always been difficult to get physicians to sign home health orders in a timely manner. There are many reasons physicians can be difficult to communicate with including:
- Physician’s misunderstanding of the Medicare requirements for home health
- Physicians often overwhelmed with their own documentation requirements
- Care for the geriatric patient often falls to the non- physician practitioners
There was high hope when the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2019 was introduced in April 2019. However, instead of moving forward, the bill was sent to committee and never heard from again.
One of the sweeping changes included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the ability for nurse practitioners, certified clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants to certify patients for home health care. Non-physician practitioners may now sign the plan of care and follow a beneficiary’s home health episode without supervision of a physician. COVID-19 has brought many hardships to our industry, but the ability of non-physician practitioners to take the primary role in certification and recertification of our home health patients is one positive and very overdue change.
While most of the changes we have seen to home health care regulations are temporary during the “public health emergency” CMS has announced this is a permanent change to home health and is retroactive to March 1, 2020.