Not only did this year’s payment update rule include a 1.8% rate increase for 2019 Medicare hospice payments, centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continued its work to reduce regulatory burdens on Medicare providers at the urging of advocacy groups like Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA).

• Effective October 1, CMS now permits hospice providers to choose the way they report hospice drug information on the claim form, whether as separate line items or total charge amounts

.• Effective January 1, 2019, patients are permitted to choose a physician assistant for their hospice attending physician and these professionals are able to bill Medicare for the care they provide

.• In a proposal that PHA supported but has not yet been finalized by CMS, the agency made several updates to the emergency preparedness regulations to minimize the burden on providers. For instance, the rule would require just one emergency drill each year and permit agencies to update their emergency plan every two years instead of annually.

*From Pennsylvania Homecare Association