Who should certify homebound patients?

Home care providers can use an easy form to show support for legislation to allow non-physician certification

Medicare already allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to conduct the important face-to-face encounter required for a patient to receive home health services, but only a physician can certify the patient’s eligibility.

A bill now in the U.S. House of Representatives would change that, broadening the field of practitioners allowed to certify homebound eligibility to include nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Home care leaders are enthusiastic about the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act, introduced as H.R. 2150.

“This legislation would be of real value in rural areas and other areas where there may be less availability of physicians,” said J’non Griffin, owner and president of Home Health Solutions. “In many cases nurse practitioners and physician assistants are already providing primary care to patients in those areas. This bill would allow them to certify patients as well.”

Medicare has already shown some flexibility with physician-only requirements by allowing non-physician practitioners to conduct the face-to-face encounter required for certification.

Under current statutory requirements at §424.22(a)(1)(v) non-physician practitioners such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants are allowed to conduct the face-to-face as long as they are working in collaboration with the physician in accordance with State law – and that they meet the definition of their profession as determined by the Social Security Act.

If passed, the Home Care Planning Improvement Act would allow non-physician practitioners to certify home health patients as well.

“But in order for this important legislation to pass, Congress needs to understand the widespread support for it,” J’non said. “It’s important for everyone in home health to reach out to elected officials to show support.”

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice has created an easy-to-use form to make it simpler to show support for the bill. By completing a form with your own information, an email will be forwarded to the appropriate representatives for your area.

How’s your agency’s F2F documentation?

Problems with inadequate face-to-face encounter documentation continue to plague home health agencies, resulting in ADRs and claim denials. The Home Health Solutions team has compiled a list of 12 of the most common F2F documentation errors in “The Dirty Dozen,” a digital guide available as an instant download from our online store, The Solutions Shop. The guide includes a Do-and-Don’t List and highlights important points to know under PDGM in 2020. Price: $24.99