Older, weak man lies in bed while vial of morphine is shown in foreground

Providers are cheering a move by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid not to pursue Special Focus Facilities (SFFs) for hospice. CMS indicated its new course in a home health final rule issued Tuesday.

“It is clear from the final rule that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave close consideration to many of the comments submitted as part of the regulatory process,” said Theresa Forster, vice president for hospice policy for the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. “We are particularly encouraged to see that CMS plans to delay creation of a Special Focus Program (SFP) for hospice in order to more fully consider stakeholder feedback as part of its development.” 

CMS noted in the final rule that, based on feedback, instead of SFFs it is establishing a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) “with stakeholder engagement” and plans to finalize this program through future rulemaking.

The agency also will limit the suspension of payment remedy to new patient admissions. NAHC “applauds” this decision, Forster said.

She added, “Finally, we are heartened that CMS is considering a number of recommendations NAHC commended to strengthen the surveyor conflict of interest recommendations.”