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Home Health Hospice Face-to-Face Certification Rule

CMS Begins Enforcing Home Health and Hospice Face To Face Rule

On March 31, 2011, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a statement that it intends to begin enforcing the home health and hospice “face-to-face” requirement.  The Accountable care Act established a face-to-face encounter requirement before eligibility for Medicare home health services can be certified.  A certifying physician is now required to document that the physician or a non-physician practitioner that works with the physician has seen the physician “face-to-face.”  Face-to-face encounters with hospice patients must also occur  prior to the patient’s 180th-day re-certification, and each subsequent re-certification.

 The face-to-face requirement went into effect on January 1,  2011 but CMS announced in December 2010 that it would suspend enforcement for the first calendar quarter of 2011 in order to give providers additional time to establish compliance protocols.  CMS has stated that it expects providers (home health and hospices) to have fully established and implemented internal processes to be in compliance with the face-to-face requirement and by April 1, 2011, Home health providers and physicians are required to ensure that a face-to-face encounter with a home health or hospice patient occurs within the 90 days prior to the start of care, or within the 30 days after the start of care in order to appropriately certify the need for home health services.  Documentation of the face-to-face requirement must be included with patient certifications.

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John H. Fisher

Health Care Counsel
Ruder Ware, L.L.S.C.
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