Some of the important dates in 2015 affecting seniors housing and services providers:
- IMPACT Act. Under the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014 and several executive actions announced with its October signing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, beginning in January, will implement focused survey inspections for a sample of nursing homes nationwide to help verify staffing and quality measure information reported on the Nursing Home Compare website; will pilot-test quarterly electronic, payroll-based reporting to help calculate quality measures for staff turnover, retention, types of staffing and levels of different types of staffing relayed via the site, with nationwide reporting by all nursing homes expected by the end of fiscal year 2016; will revise its scoring methodology used to calculate nursing homes’ five-star ratings for the website; will change requirements to ensure that states complete nursing home inspections in a timely and accurate manner and maintain user-friendly websites for public viewing; and will increase the number and type of quality measures used on the site. Also, beginning in April, hospice providers will be subject to survey at least once every three years.
- Antipsychotic drug use will be the first new quality measure added to the Nursing Home Compare website, beginning in January. New goals of the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care announced in September call for a reduction in the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs in long-stay skilled nursing facility residents by 25 percent by the end of 2015 in relation to a baseline rate from the fourth quarter of 2011.
- Therapy caps. The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, passed by Congress in March, keeps Medicare Part B payments for physical, occupational and speech therapy level through March 31, 2015, and extends the exceptions process through that date as well. Congress has until then to negotiate a permanent fix to the sustainable growth rate as well as a solution to the annual therapy caps issue that began with the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
- ICD-10 implementation. Not as much of an issue for senior housing and services providers as it is for physicians and some other healthcare providers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has set the start date for the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, code set at Oct. 1, 2015. The new coding system, the implementation of which has been delayed multiple times, will be the first major code set switch in 40 years and is tied to the way some providers are paid. HHS expects its use to improve care delivery across provider sites and improve the management of chronic diseases.
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