The "Improving Post-Acute Care Transformation Act" (IMPACT Act) was signed into law on October 6, 2014. This new federal law contains provisions that create greater oversight of hospice providers and increase transparency among hospice organizations. Hospice agencies care for individuals and family members at a critical and difficult time in their life journey. With this privilege and responsibility, hospice providers have to be impeccable, act with integrity, and put the needs and goals of patients and families first.
What does the IMPACT Act mean for you? What does it mean for hospice providers and in particular Transitions HospiceCare?
Increase Oversight: The new law mandates that all hospice providers must be surveyed at least every three years. A survey is an on-site inspection by a state or federal agency. The on-site inspection can identify compliance or non-compliance with state and federal regulations. In the past, the time between inspections averaged six to eight years with some hospices not being surveyed for 10 or more years. The increased frequency of on-site inspections will have a positive influence on providers' business practices in order to comply with rules and regulations.
The new law also requires increased scrutiny of hospice organizations that may be recruiting and admitting patients that are not appropriate for hospice care, i.e., do not have a limited (six months or less) life expectancy. Hospice programs that have a high percentage of patients on service more than 180 days will be subject to focused medical reviews and billing audits.
Increase Transparency: More frequent inspections and medical reviews can bring to the light of day unacceptable practices and aberrant behaviors among hospice providers. This will raise the standard and quality of care among all providers and eventually weed out the bad players.
The increased oversight and transparency is good for future recipients of hospice care and their family members or caregivers. Quality will increase and more information on providers will be available for consumers to make informed choices. If you would like information on choosing a hospice provider please visit Moments of Life page. The guidance from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) provides a checklist and questions to ask the hospice staff including:
- When was the last state or federal survey?
- We're any deficiencies noted during the survey, and, if so, have they been resolved?
- Is the hospice accredited by a national organization?
Transition LifeCare supports the new IMPACT law, and the provisions are in alignment with our current practices. Transitions HospiceCare is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, and has been surveyed every three years. Our last on-site inspection was in 2012 and was free of deficiencies. Transitions HospiceCare has a very low percentage of patients on service more than 180 days, and has not been audited for inappropriate admissions. In addition, we go above and beyond the rules and regulations required of all hospices. Some of the ways we exceed the basic regulations are:
- Membership in the NHPCO Quality Partners Program that requires stricter standards and comprehensive self-assessments.
- Offer a host of additional services to patients and families including We Honor Veterans, Pet Peace of Mind, Vigil Volunteers, and Camp Reflections for grieving children.
- Approved provider of education hospice, palliative care and related topics.
by John Thoma, CEO