VA Looks to Open Up Home Health, Hospice to Non-VA Providers

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By Terry Miller, RN 
Regulatory Advisor, McKesson

Home Health Hospice Agencies Open to More VeteransHome health and hospice agencies would be able to serve more veterans under new rules currently being considered by the Veterans Administration.

The proposed rule would allow veterans to seek extended care services through non-VA providers. Those would include home health, palliative care and non-institutional hospice care as ways to avoid nursing home care.

According to an article on the Home Care Association of Florida website, contract agreements between the VA and non-VA providers include “onerous and often confusing federal reporting requirements.” The proposal would streamline contracting, allowing the VA to enter into provider agreements with agencies that already accept Medicare or participate in a state Medicaid plan.

Agencies that provide either Medicare or Medicaid services would receive that rate. Agencies that provide both Medicare and Medicaid services would receive whichever rate is highest to encourage participation of non-VA providers, according to the HCAF article. Finally, the agreement stipulates a 15-day termination by either party, although the VA can terminate with two days’ notice if it feels the health of a veteran is in jeopardy.

In fiscal year 2010, the VA provided health care to 5.2 million veterans, a sizable potential pool of clients for home health, palliative care and hospice care. But interestingly, the proposal didn’t generate many headlines, which is why you might not have been aware of it before.

The comment period ended March 15, but I can’t imagine anyone in our industry who would be opposed to extending the services we provide to more people. The VA didn’t expect opposition either, stating that the rule “would increase the opportunity for veterans to obtain non-VA extended care services from local providers that furnish vital and often life-sustaining medical services.”

We’ll be monitoring progress on this proposal, and I urge you to contact your local VA office to find out when your home health or hospice agency might be able to apply.

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