Welcome to VNAA's new blog - The Community.
I've just completed six months here at VNAA and I am honored to be working with such passionate, committed, community-focused care providers. I wanted to launch our new blog with a few observations about both the challenges and significant opportunities that exist for home health today. I will also make some clear commitments to our nonprofit community.
First, the challenge:
Policymakers, payers and providers do not clearly understand the value and evidence case for nonprofit home health care and hospice services. For home health, these important stakeholders do not have a clear definition of home health care including the specific services, benefits and quality and the value to the health care delivery system, broadly. This is evidenced by federal proposals to dramatically reduce home health service payment rates and impose challenging auditing, reporting and certification requirements. For hospice, stakeholders have recognized neither the high cost of short stay patients (primarily served by nonprofit providers), nor the impact and increased financial burden of new cost report requirements and quality measures. For both home health and hospice, it is also a failure to recognize the increased costs of serving complex, vulnerable patients as well as the considerable costs associated with staff recruitment, training, retention and increased costs associated with health information technology adoption and utilization. These challenges are further exacerbated by instances of fraud and abuse perpetrated by some less-scrupulous providers who cast shadow and suspicion on an entire industry.
Now, the good news:
Community-based, nonprofit home health, hospice and palliative care and health promotion providers have the most significant opportunities in health care delivery today for growth and success. There are several reasons for this strongly held belief. First, the Affordable Care Act established quality goals and payment models that incentivize primary and acute care providers to prevent primary hospitalizations and unnecessary repeat hospitalizations. These goals cannot be achieved without strong engagement and support from providers who are in a patients home, coordinating care among providers, identifying challenges before they become complications, and supporting family members and other caregivers. These goals have resulted in numerous pilot programs and small-scale partnerships between community-based providers of these services and managed care organizations, physician groups, hospitals and larger integrated delivery systems. Time is proving the value of these partnerships and scalability is the next step. Second, policy makers are now turning attention to reform of post-acute care models. Again, community-based providers of home health care and hospice services will be integral components in successful reform models. Home health, especially, can strengthen post-acute care and reduce re-hospitalizations.
Finally, my commitments:
VNAA will elevate awareness of our nonprofit providers to tell the story of community-based care, to demonstrate the quality and outcomes achieved through strong partnerships among providers and other stakeholders, and to ensure appropriate access to and reimbursement for these services. We will do this through new research and quality improvement programming that will build upon VNAA's highly regarded advocacy efforts. We will also engage a broader community of providers and stakeholders to ensure our success. Finally, we will establish a clear framework for home health care and hospice services to remove confusion as to the goals, value, integrity and quality. I invite members of our nonprofit community to join us and look forward to these important collaborations.