News Roundup July 31st, 2020

This week we saw a massive contraction in the economy not seen for decades. The economy shrunk at a quarterly (and historical) loss of 9.5% from April to June. With COVID-19 surging in regions across the US, the only hope for recovery can be seen from control of the virus and a second stimulus package Congress is negotiating right now to lift consumer activity in the short term. Right now talks appear to be at an impasse with calls to the senate to pass a bill that will help US residents out of a pinch and infuse more stimulus into the healthcare market. What this means for many home health care workers and providers across the country is a holding pattern to get the proper support and funding to continue tamping down on cases and prevent an economic freefall. 

Home Health Care News reports the possibility of home health providers to tap into new revenue streams and diversify offerings through an expansion of services covered under Medicare B. Though such an expansion may pose challenges for many current home health agencies’ configuration, it may be a good reason to expand on an agency’s core competency to enhance the provider’s longevity.  In a presentation at National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) Financial Management Conference, Beau Sorensen, chief operating officer at First Choice Home Health and Hospice, stated:

“One of the key reasons for this is diversification,” Sorensen said. “If you’re just home health and hospice, you’re subject to a lot of whims. The whims of PDGM, Medicare Advantage plans and referral sources who are upstream from you.” 

Elsewhere in local news, in the Bay Area a new focus on home health care services is reported as experts try to mitigate the spread in nursing homes. 

ABC 7 News reports:

“There’s a new demand for at-home healthcare, which is creating a new job market for some.

Instructor Deborah Meshel was demonstrating her latest lesson plan. She teaches a free weekly online class at the Tamalpias [sic] Adult School on how to become a home care aide. It’s now the most popular course being offered.

“It’s in great demand because of COVID-19, a lot of people don’t want to put loved ones in a facility, they want to keep them at home,” said Meshel.”

Lastly, in industry news, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services published their first monthly update of data to provide a view on the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population particularly concerning vulnerable members of the population.

Some key data points from

“ -Black beneficiaries continue to be hospitalized at higher rates than other racial and ethnic groups, with 670 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries.

-Beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid – who often suffer from multiple chronic conditions and have low incomes – were hospitalized at a rate more than 4.5 times higher than beneficiaries with Medicare only (719 versus 153 per 100,000).

-Beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) continue to be hospitalized at higher rates than other segments of the Medicare population, with 1,911 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries, compared with 241 per 100,000 for aged and 226 per 100,000 for disabled.

-CMS paid $2.8 billion in Medicare fee-for-service claims for COVID-related hospitalizations, or an average of $25,255 per beneficiary.”