CMS’ Final Rule Mandates Emergency Preparedness for Home Health

Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:13 AM

A new final rule has required home health agencies and other Medicare-certified providers to meet emergency preparedness standards. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rolled out this new rule, that has been expected for quite some time.

Due to the terrible flooding in Louisiana that took the life of the founder and former CEO of Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED), and more than a dozen people, now is the best time to put in place emergency plans and procedures.

“With more than 420 care centers across the country, Amedisys deals with tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters every year,” Kate Jones, RN, Amedisys senior vice president of public policy and research, told Home Health Care News. “Our Disaster Response Team followed its emergency preparedness and recovery plan to the letter during the unprecedented flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last month.”

“Because of our extensive disaster response efforts, Amedisys home health continued to not only see our current patients, but also continued to accept new referrals from the local hospitals,” Jones said. “All of these are the results of having a very strong emergency preparedness plan in place.”

“Situations like the recent flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, remind us that in the event of an emergency, the first priority of health care providers and suppliers is to protect the health and safety of their patients,” CMS Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., said in a press release. “Preparation, planning and one comprehensive approach for emergency preparedness is key. One life lost is one too many.”

The new rule is expected to have some regulatory burdens on home health agencies and other health care providers.

“Frankly, those three are the groups that will have the biggest burden,” Lord told Home Health Care News. “A lot of the other health care groups, like hospitals, have been doing this stuff for a while. It’s nowhere near as robust as CMS is saying they will have to do.”

The final rule orders that heath care providers across 17 settings, including home health care, are required to abide by these four industry best practices standards:
1. Emergency plan
2. Policies and procedures
3. Communication plan
4. Training and testing program

CMS has noted that all health care groups must have their new procedures and plans in place by November 2017.

Concerned about maintaining policies and procedures? Corridor has you covered! Contact Corridor to learn how our policy and procedure manuals can help your agency save time and maintain compliance.

Need help with the development of an emergency management plan? Click here to view Corridor’s webinars.

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