Is Your Agency Ready For the New Home Health Regulations?

The home health care industry will see several changes to regulations in 2014. Some of the compliance deadlines for these new home health regulations are right around the corner, so you want to make sure your agency is ready. Non-compliance can put you at risk for costly fines and other penalties. As home health care consultants, we’ve seen too many agencies put off compliance until the last minute and wind up paying fines that could have been avoided. Let’s take a closer look at some of the regulations you need to be prepared for this year.

HIPAA Compliance
Compliance with HIPAA should always be a concern for home health care agencies. In 2014, HIPAA will include a final rule that has a number of provisions regarding the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or HITECH. The new rules require increased protection and control of patient information. While home health care agencies have always been required to abide by HIPAA, all business associates for agencies must now comply as well.

ICD-9 will officially be replaced by ICD-10 codes beginning in October of this year. Many home health care agencies have already made preparations for the switch over to ICD-10, but if you haven’t, it’s time to work on getting your agency ready for the change over to the new code sets. This includes preparing everyone in your organization, from employees in the field to office staff.

Failure to use the new codes–and make sure your clinical staff are charting to the codes–can have a huge financial impact, causing delays in reimbursement, reducing cash flow, and determining whether Medicare accepts billing from your agency in the future. You can learn more about the new ICD-10 home health regulations and what the conversion means for your agency on the CMS website.

New Insurance Requirements for Employees
You aren’t required to offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if your agency has 50 or fewer employees. Under the new law, some businesses with 50 or more employees will have to make a payment in the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment in 2015 or 2016 for not providing coverage. If you have fewer than 25 full-time employees, your agency may qualify for a small business health care tax credit when you use the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to offer insurance. The tax credit is available to agencies that pay at least 50 percent of the cost of single coverage for employees.

Increased Wage Requirements Are Coming Soon
New home health regulations for employee wages are on the way. Agencies will be required to supply workers with at least the minimum federal wage as well as overtime pay beginning in January 2015. This new rule covers home health aides, nurses, caregivers, and home care companions. While it isn’t required until 2015, most home care agencies are working to comply with this rule in 2014 so that their budget doesn’t take as big of a hit come 2015.

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