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S.722 - HELP Act
A bill to strengthen and protect Medicare hospice programs.
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SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
SEC. 2. ENSURING TIMELY ACCESS TO HOSPICE CARE.
‘(i) a hospice physician, a nurse practitioner, a clinical nurse specialist, or a physician assistant (as those terms are defined in section 1861(aa)(5)), or other health professional (as designated by the Secretary), has a face-to-face encounter with the individual to determine continued eligibility of the individual for hospice care prior to the first 60-day period and each subsequent recertification under subparagraph (A)(ii) (or, in the case where a hospice program newly admits an individual who would be entering their first 60-day period or a subsequent hospice benefit period or where exceptional circumstances, as defined by the Secretary, may prevent a face-to-face encounter prior to the beginning of the hospice benefit period, not later than 7 calendar days after the individual’s election under section 1812(d)(1) with respect to the hospice program) and attests that such visit took place (in accordance with procedures established by the Secretary); and’.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 3. RESTORING AND PROTECTING THE MEDICARE HOSPICE BENEFIT.
‘(I) IN GENERAL- Prior to implementing any revisions to the methodology for determining the payment rates for routine home care and other services included in hospice care under subparagraph (E), the Secretary shall establish a Medicare Hospice Payment Reform demonstration program to test such proposed revisions.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
‘(IV) REPRESENTATIVE PARTICIPATION- Hospice programs selected under subclause (III) to participate in the demonstration program shall include a representative cross-section of such programs throughout the United States, including programs located in urban and rural areas.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
‘(I) EVALUATION- The Secretary shall conduct an evaluation of the demonstration program under this subparagraph. Such evaluation shall include an analysis of whether the use of the revised payment methodology under the demonstration program has improved the quality of patient care and access to hospice services for beneficiaries under this title and the impact of such payment revisions on hospice care providers, including the impact, if any, on the ability of hospice programs to furnish quality care to beneficiaries under this title.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
‘(II) REPORT- Not later than 1 year after the completion of the demonstration program, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report containing the results of the evaluation conducted under subclause (I), together with recommendations for such legislation and administrative action as the Secretary determines appropriate.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
‘(iii) BUDGET NEUTRALITY- With respect to the 2-year period of the demonstration program under this subparagraph, the Secretary shall ensure that the estimated amount of aggregate payments under this title to each hospice program participating in the demonstration program for such period shall not be more than 5 percent higher or 5 percent lower than the estimated amount of aggregate payments that would have been made under this title to each such hospice program during such period had they not participated in the demonstration program under this subparagraph.’.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(I) in the first sentence, by striking ‘October 1, 2013, the Secretary shall, by regulation’ and inserting ‘subject to clause (iii), the later of 2 years after the demonstration program under subparagraph (D) is completed or October 1, 2017, the Secretary shall, by regulation, preceded by notice of the proposed regulation in the Federal Register and a period for public comment in accordance with section 1871(b)(1),’; andCommentsClose CommentsPermalink
‘(iii) In no case may the Secretary implement any revisions in payment pursuant to clause (i) unless the Secretary determines that the demonstration program under subparagraph (D) demonstrated that such revisions would not adversely affect access to quality hospice care by beneficiaries under this title.’.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
SEC. 4. HOSPICE SURVEY REQUIREMENT.
‘(C) Any entity seeking certification as a hospice program shall be subject to an initial survey by an appropriate State or local survey agency, or an approved accreditation agency, as determined by the Secretary, not later than 6 months after beginning operations, and any entity which is certified as a hospice program shall be subject to a standard survey not less frequently than every 36 months.’.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink
(b) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) takes effect on the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act and applies to hospice programs on or after such date.CommentsClose CommentsPermalink