HCP Calls on Policy Makers Jointly with 1199SEIU to Protect and Assist Home Care from COVID

In a press release issued yesterday, HCP President and CEO, Kathy Febraio, announced HCP’s continued efforts to help ensure home care providers have the resources needed to keep workers and patients safe and healthy in their homes and communities.

“HCP is pressing forward at all levels of government to help ensure New York’s home care providers have access to the personal protective equipment, testing and financial resources and support they so desperately need to keep workers and patients safe.” Febraio said.

She added “Nothing is more important at this time than the protection of our patients and home care workers from the COVID-19 infection.”

As we have reported, HCP joined with 1199SEIU in sending a letter to the Cuomo Administration urging that it make available to home care providers portions of unspent Medicaid dollars being held by Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) companies. This money should be used to ensure the safety and health of caregivers and patients.

“1199SEIU home care members have been continuing to leave their homes to provide care for their clients throughout this pandemic,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU, which represents 450,000 healthcare workers. “While home care providers have incurred extraordinary costs to provide personal protective equipment to aides, they have received no additional reimbursement. Managed care companies have experienced lower claims and costs during this period. The state should ensure that those resources are directed where they are most needed – to the aides and the consumers they serve.”

The letter stated, “Home care providers continue to do their part to ensure both worker and consumer safety and comply with all of the State directives to combat this crisis. These additional, unreimbursed costs, however, are unmanageable and annualized are financially unsustainable.

“In order to support MLTC members, we urge you to require a redistribution of the underspending to plans’ home care providers to support the acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for workers as well as other new pandemic-related costs like overtime, sick pay and premium pay for workers caring for coronavirus patients. MLTCs could pass through the funding as rate adjustments, lump sum payments, or other calculations.”

Federal Efforts

In addition, HCP again joined with 1199SEIU and more than 60 other organizations to call on the United States Congress to increase Medicaid funding to New York State to ensure that Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) providers have the resources to provide the necessary equipment to those in home care.

Our efforts at the State level alone are not enough for the home care industry to battle this pandemic. Home care needs resources from the Federal government at this time when the State’s economic outlook is increasingly dreary, with significant adverse impacts on the home care industry. We are pleased with the passage of the HEROES Act by the House of Representatives. We call on the U.S. Senate to swiftly pass this COVID relief package.

The letter to Congress stated in part, “HCBS providers need additional resources to remain financially stable, to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of workers to care for homebound individuals, and to keep their workforce safe and healthy. We urge Congress to increase Medicaid funding specifically for HCBS to ensure sufficient resources are available, and require the State Medicaid programs to:

  • Provide pass-through funding to providers for worker support, including additional compensation and sick pay, childcare and transportation subsidies.
  • Reimburse home and community-based services providers for additional COVID- and shutdown-related administrative costs, including telehealth systems, PPE supplies, increased overtime expenses and employee retention.

The letter concluded, “These important initiatives are currently unfunded, and, given the tenuous financial position of most HCBS providers, must be supported by federal and state government funding.”

HCP Submits Legislation to Fund PPE for Home Care Providers

As of yesterday, the bill HCP submitted to the Legislature to require unspent funding paid by the state to MLTCs be used to support PPE acquisition for home care workers to protect them from COVID-19 and the infection of their patients was introduced in both houses.

HCP thanks and commends Assemblymember Gottfried and Senator Rivera for sponsoring this critically important bill and calls on the legislature to pass it and urges Governor Cuomo’s swift approval. The bill can be found at this link. A.10451(Gottfried)/S.8361(Rivera) – In relation to providing for reimbursement for expenses related to the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct care workers, care recipients and an emergency inventory of a ninety-day supply of PPE.
Home care workers keep the most vulnerable patients in their homes, protecting them and the public from the spread of COVID-19. The need for PPE for the protection of home care workers and their patients is paramount.

DOH Announces Implementation of 1.5% Across the Board (ATB) Medicaid Payment Reductions

Today, DOH announced that effective for dates of service on or after April 2, 2020 and each State Fiscal Year thereafter, all non-exempt Department of Health state funds Medicaid payments will be uniformly reduced by 1.5%. For services subject to the 1.5% reduction, all fee-for service payments will receive a decrease to Medicaid checks and/or Electronic Funds Transfers for dates of services on or after April 2, 2020. Conversely, managed care payments to health plans will be reduced through a 1.5% reduction to premium rates effective April 2, 2020. Remittances will reflect the prospective 1.5% reduction (appearing as an "FC2" recoupment) starting in cycle 2231, which has a check release date of 06/10/2020 (distressed providers will have a check release date of 05/27/2020). Retroactive adjustments to previously submitted claims with dates of service spanning April 2, 2020 through May 13, 2020 will be made at a future date.

Please click here to read the full provider notice.

Update: DOH Issues DAL on Relaunch of Cost Report

As HCP has reported, it has been in communication with the Department of Health (DOH/the Department) with respect to the relaunch of the home care cost report. Today, DOH issued a Dear Administrator Letter (DAL), which can be found here.

Prior to COVID-19, the Department, along with accounting firm KPMG, was in the process of engaging with providers in educational forums across the state to educate them on the new home care cost report. This process was suspended shortly after the onset of COVID-19.

In the DAL DOH highlighted that the Cost Report is still required to be submitted using 2019 data for providers that receive Medicaid reimbursement related to personal care, CDPAP, and CHHA funding streams. Providers not required to complete the cost report include Assisted Living Program (ALP) only agencies, private pay only agencies and hospital based CHHAs.

The time frame for submission of the cost report will begin in early June and continue through the end of October.

DOH and KPMG have committed to conducting extensive outreach and providing support to providers throughout the cost report submission and audit process.
Additional details are available in the DAL found here.

COST REPORT RELAUNCH KEY DATES

May 27 at 2:00-3:00 - Relaunch Session
June 2 at 2:00-4:00 – Initial Outreach Session. Additional sessions will be held June – October.
June 3 – Cost Report Web-Based Tool Log-in Credentials issued via email. Providers can request additional log-in credentials for staff and consultants.
Mid-August – Audit Process Webinar

It is expected that the deadline for cost report completion would be late in October allowing providers an additional two months to complete the report.

HCP continues to urge DOH to provide any FAQs that have been accumulated from the sessions that had been held pre-COVID. It should also consider a strategy of harmonizing the LHCSA Statistical Report due in November and the 2019 Cost Report due in the fall to be more efficient and better use the resources of providers.

Upcoming Cost Report Communications: As reported, DOH has shared that providers should anticipate receiving communications from the following email addresses during the cost report process:

Reminder - Please Join the NYS Department of Health Weekly COVID-19 Update

Thursday, May 21 at 1-2PM for a COVID-19 update for healthcare providers.

To accommodate the large number of participants, our webinar will be streaming via YouTube Live:
https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/weekly-healthcare-provider-update

For audio only, please dial in: 844-512-2950

CHC WEBINAR: Prepare Now for Targeted Infection Control Surveys

On May 28, CHC will be holding a webinar for providers to prepare for infection control surveys.

Beyond the daily provider surveys regarding staffing and PPE, and the random NYS DOH calls, the Department of Health has initiated random targeted surveys to examine infection control measures providers have in place during the COVID crisis. These activities are being prioritized to assess provider readiness to meet multiple pandemic challenges.

Join this program to learn how the NYS DOH has implemented these focused surveys. Completing this program will help you to assess your readiness to meet these standards and avoid additional survey actions.

Click here to register

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, fees for this program have been reduced. Webinar fee is $49 for HCP members, and $99 for Prospective or Non-Members.

DOH Provides “Find a Test Site” Tool

NYSDOH now has a public “Find A Test Site Near You” search engine on its website: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

NOTE: This COVID-19 Test Site Finder is updated regularly with the latest, publicly available data. However, coronavirus test site details are changing rapidly.

US DOL and IRS Issue Rule to Extend COBRA Deadlines

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) have issued a Joint Rule to extend certain time frames for group health plans and other welfare and pension plans. Pursuant to the Rule, plans must disregard the period from March 1, 2020 until 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency related to the COVID-19 outbreak (which is, at this time, an undetermined date). In the Rule, this period is referred to as the “Outbreak Period.”

The Rule provides that this relief applies in determining such deadlines as:

  • The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage
  • The date for making COBRA premium payments; and
  • The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event.

The Rule provides several examples of how disregarding the “Outbreak Period" would impact these deadlines. One such example is the situation where an employee has a reduction of hours below what is necessary to meet the group health plan eligibility requirements. If that employee was provided a COBRA election notice on April 1, 2020, what is the deadline for the employee to elect COBRA? The due date will be 60 days after the announced end of the National Emergency. In the Rule, the DOL and IRS used a hypothetical end date of June 29, 2020 which would make the COBRA election notice due on August 28, 2020.

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) Technical Assistance Call

On Tuesday, May 19, DOH held the next in its series of EVV stakeholder Technical Assistance Programs. The PowerPoint slides and recording of the webinar will be posted here when they become available.

The next session will take place on June 6. You will need to register to attend. You can register here once registration opens. These sessions provide a good opportunity for providers to ask questions regarding EVV.

Webinar with NYeC

Also on Tuesday, May 19, CHC hosted a webinar in partnership with the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC). NYeC presented an overview of the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY), and how it can help your agency access valuable services that offer the most up to date information possible on your patients and clients, helping you to deliver better informed, more efficient care during this difficult time and beyond. These are services available to you at low or no cost.

This webinar also detailed the Data Exchange Incentive Program (DEIP), which offers eligible organizations up to $13,000 to connect and contribute data to the SHIN-NY. NYeC covered eligibility, requirements, and next steps. The funds are available to providers on first come, first served basis for a limited time.

Agencies already using electronic health records (EHRs) will greatly benefit from this presentation. It may also come as no surprise to providers that it is a great time to consider making these changes prior to the deadline for Electronic Visit Verification.

Please join us to learn more about how you can improve the value and care coordination of your organization through Health Information Exchange.

Access to a recording of this webinar can be found here.

Edna Scholarship Applications Due June 1

If you are a nurse, or know a nurse, who is interested in expanding or starting a career in home care through continuing education, please consider visiting www.ednascholarship.org. The Edna A. Lauterbach Scholarship is available every Spring for New York State Registered Nurses (RNs) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who are planning to further their career in home and community-based care. Applicants for the scholarship must currently hold an RN or LPN from New York State to be eligible for consideration.

Reminder: No HCP Insider Friday, May 22

There will be no HCP Insider this Friday, May 22. HCP will continue to send News Alerts as needed.