When it comes to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) changes, I have come to believe that there are 3 sides of the story: the CMS version, the providers’ version, and the truth, which is usually somewhere in the middle. The Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) that will govern home health payment beginning January 2020 is a good example of what I’m talking about.
PDGM shook the therapy world when it was announced that the number of therapy visits will not be considered or weighed into each 30-day period pricing for home care within a 60-day episode. As usual, providers, fearful of losing money, started to lay off therapy staff without really understanding what CMS intended.
Most of us understand that therapy visit thresholds were used to determine the additional pricing to the base rate for a home care 60-day episode. Home health providers have paid particular attention to this fact, realizing that the number of therapy visits at certain thresholds adds value to the base amount of the home care episodic rate. Back when the therapy threshold was 10 visits, home care agencies tried to have a minimum of 10 visits to capture that dollar amount. When the threshold increased to 13 visits, that number soon became the norm of therapy visits for every patient. Later, the therapy threshold moved to 19 visits. Home care agencies started to add multiple therapy services to attain that number and discharged every patient after 19 visits.