July 2019
From the Executive Director
On July 11, I had the honor of speaking at a celebration for the 50 th Anniversary of Franklin County Home Health Agency (FCHHA). The line-up of speakers included the creative and dedicated nurses who founded the agency and the first executive director to lead the agency. They shared stories about hatching the idea to establish an agency, building community support for it and finally getting it up and running. It was a testament to how much a small group of dedicated women with a vision can accomplish. Janet McCarthy (at right), the current executive director of the agency, also gave remarks. You can watch a video of what she had to say HERE .
50 Years of Care
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. 
The first Gap store opened.
Elvis Presley made a comeback.
The price of a gallon of milk was 36 cents.
The price of a postage stamp was four cents.
And the dream of building a home health agency in Franklin County came to fruition. 

That’s the way Franklin County Home Health Agency (FCHHA) executive director Janet McCarthy opened her remarks at the FCHHA 50th Anniversary celebration at the St. Albans Museum on July 11.
Federal Update
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued the proposed 2020 Medicare home health payment rule, which goes into effect on January 1,2020. A final rule is expected in October. 

The major elements of the proposed rule include:
  • Confirmation that CMS is moving forward with the payment reform known as the patient-driven group model (PDGM). 
  • An 8.01percent base payment reduction (up from the 6.42% reduction proposed in 2019) known as the “behavioral adjustment” meant to “offset” changes CMS expects home health agencies to implement in response to the implementation of PDGM. 
  • A base payment increase of 1.5 percent, consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which is incorporated into the PDGM methodology.
  • A Congressionally mandated cut to the home health rural add-on payment. This change impacts agencies serving every county in Vermont except Chittenden and Franklin, which are not considered “rural” under federal guidelines. The VNAs of Vermont estimate that this policy change alone represents a $1.2 million cut. To put that number in context, the 2 percent Medicaid increase to home health, long-term care and hospice combined passed by the Vermont Legislature for SFY2020 totaled less than $750,000.

All VNAs of Vermont members are full-service, not-for-profit agencies that provide a broad array of services, including home health, hospice and long-term care. That means that changes to hospice payments that Medicare proposed last Spring impact our agencies too. The proposed FY2020 Hospice Payment rule includes a 2.71 percent cut to the so-called “routine” hospice care provided to patients and families at home to fund “rebasing” increases for other levels of hospice care. 
What We're Reading
NHPCO Releases Report: Vermont Saw Largest Growth in Hospice Care
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has issued the most recent edition of its annual report, NHPCO Facts and Figures (PDF) that provides an overview of hospice care delivery in the U.S. with specific information on who receives care, how much care was provided, who is providing that care, and Medicare spending on hospice care.
In the News
Educational Opportunities
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July 23
Noon to 1 p.m.
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Thursday, July 25 | 2 to 3:30 p.m.
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Tuesday, August 6, 2019 | 2-3:30 p.m.
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Thursday, August 15 | 2 to 3 p.m.
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July 2019-June 2020
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June through October, 2019
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