Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daymarck: Report on Our Progress

Making home health coding pain-free and easy. It’s your time to start feeling better.

In 2007 we started Daymarck with the vision to be THE leader
in outsourced home health medical coding. We had the goal of making home health coding as easy and pain-free as possible for agencies of all sizes. February 2011 was our best month yet – and we keep having our best months, month-after-month. All the while improving on our goal of making coding pain-free for you.

Daymarck has grown more than 1000 percent from those early days. It has been a lot of hard work, and long days and nights, but I have been fortunate to have a great team in place and agencies that have benefited from our pain-free coding solution and helped spread the word about Daymarck. We have also learned a lot through our agency relationships and continue to grow daily.

Starting a company in 2007 was a leap of faith. It wasn’t the best economic environment for new business ventures, as we all know, but sometimes the best opportunities come during times of market contractions. And, I knew we had a great product and service that was needed in the marketplace. Daymarck filled a gap and, as we grow, Daymarck will continue to respond to regulatory changes in the home healthcare industry to make your job easier.

2010 Decision Health Home Coding Summit

In 2011, in response to our clients’ needs and what we have seen in the marketplace, we are planning to expand our offerings. Please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to keep up-to-date. In addition, please plan on meeting us face-to-face at these three important conferences where we will be sponsors and exhibitors: NAHC’s Annual Financial Management Conference & Exposition, July 13-15, 2011, San Diego; 9th Annual Home Health Coding Summit, August 8-12, 2011, Las Vegas, NV, and; NAHC’s Annual Meeting & Exposition, October 1-5, 2011, Las Vegas, NV.

We hope to see you at one or all of them. In the meantime, if you have questions about how we can alleviate your coding pains, feel free to drop me a line at And remember to follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the home healthcare coding industry.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Medicare Home Health Homebound Definition

One of the most common questions we get asked is: "How do you define "homebound?" If this is a question you have, review the below information sheet put together by CEO Nick Dobrzelcki to set the record straight. If you still have questions after reading the info sheet, please contact us at nick [at]

Homebound Definition

     The statutory language (effective December 21st, 2000) clarified and broadened the homebound eligibility criterion in two ways:
  1. Absences attributable to the need to receive health care treatment, including regular absences to participate in therapeutic, psychosocial, or medical treatment at a licensed or accredited adult day-care program, will not disqualify a beneficiary from being considered homebound.
  2. Absences for the purpose of attending a religious service are deemed to be absences of infrequent or short duration. (Generally a beneficiary whose absences from the home are not considered infrequent or of short duration will not be considered to be homebound.)
The Current Homebound Definition in the Medicare Act reads as follows:

     An individual shall be considered to be “confined to his home” if the individual has a condition:

     • due to an illness or injury, that restricts the ability of the individual to leave his or her home except with the assistance of another individual or the aid of a supportive devise (such as crutches, a cane, a wheelchair or a walker),
     • or if the individual has a condition such that leaving his or her home is medically contraindicated.
     While an individual does not have to be bedridden to be considered “confined to his home”, the condition of the individual should be such that there exists a normal inability to leave home, that leaving home requires a considerable and taxing effort by the individual, any absence of an individual from the home attributable to the need to receive health care treatment, including regular absences for the purpose of participating in therapeutic, psychosocial, or medical treatment in an adult day-care program that is licensed or certified by a State, or accredited, to furnish adult day-care services in the State shall not disqualify an individual from being considered to be “confined to his home”. Any other absence of an individual from the home shall not so disqualify an individual if the absence is of infrequent or of relatively short duration. For purposes of the preceding sentence, any absence for the purpose of attending a religious service shall be deemed to an absence of infrequent or short duration. [42 U.S.C. 1395n(a)(2)(F)] 
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary's clarification to Medicare's homebound definition: Directs providers to be more flexible in order to protect beneficiaries 
On July 26, 2002 Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, issued a press release and changes to the Medicare Home Health Agency Manual. The Secretary directed Medicare providers and contractors to be more flexible in applying the Medicare homebound criteria. This is important to elders and disabled Medicare beneficiaries as an individual must be confined to home (homebound) in order to qualify for Medicare home health coverage.

In particular, the Medicare Home Health Agency Manual, §§204.1-204.2, was amended to include additional, not all inclusive examples of situations in which the homebound criteria is met. (Family reunion, funeral, graduation.) More importantly, the following general language was added to the Manual:

It is necessary (as in determining whether skilled nursing services are intermittent) to look at the patient's condition over a period of time rather than for short periods within the home health stay. For example, a patient may leave the home (under the conditions described above, e.g. severe and taxing effort, with the assistance of others) more frequently during a short period when, for example, the presence of visiting relatives provides a unique opportunity for such absences, than is normally the case. So long as the patient's overall condition and experience is such that he or she meets these qualifications, he or she should be considered confined to home. (Emphasis added)

While the new language does not really add to the already existing homebound criteria, it does provide important direction that the criteria are to be applied flexibly and with a broad view of the patents’ condition. Advocates should use the Secretary’s press release language and the manual language to help make these points when clients are erroneously denied coverage.

CMS’ policy about the homebound status of home health patients who can drive

Just the fact that a patient drives does not automatically make them ineligible for homecare services. They issued clarification in 2008 which many providers do not follow. Within the clarification they specifically wrote:

“Homebound status is determined on an individual basis, looking at the patient as a whole. If the net effect of driving indicates that the individual has the capacity to get their health care routinely outside of the home, then it could challenge their eligibility. The fact that a patient is fit enough to drive raises questions as to whether the basic statutory requirement is met. Because individual circumstances can vary greatly, necessitating determinations on a case-by-case basis, we are reluctant to issue a specific policy that relates to driving in every possible occurrence. Inherent in such a policy would be judgments about the particular circumstances under which it may be appropriate for an individual to operate a motor vehicle. We believe that such determinations must continue to be made on a case-by-case basis.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Face-to-Face Encounters by Medical Directors

Learn more about the new face-to-face requirements that are going into effect on April 1, 2011 in an article written by Daymarck thought leader Elizabeth Hogue, a private practice attorney with extensive experience in healthcare law and policy.

Effective April 1, 2011, providers may not be paid for services rendered if patients have not had appropriate face-to-face encounters with physicians during required time periods. In order for home health agencies and hospices to be paid for services provided, documentation of these encounters must also meet applicable requirements. Many staff members of agencies and hospices have read communications from CMS, fiscal intermediaries, and other sources that seem to state that Medical Directors cannot provide face-to-face encounters and documentation of them in order to meet applicable requirements. This conclusion is stress-provoking for staff members because Medical Directors often refer a number of patients to them. If it is true that Medical Directors cannot complete face-to-face encounters and documentation of them, the new requirements are more likely to be problematic to implement.

On the contrary, Medical Directors and other referring physicians who receive payments from providers for their services may complete face-to-face encounters and documentation so long as the requirements of both the personal services and management contract safe harbor and the contractual exception are met, as described below.

It is important to note that the above requirements do not apply only to so-called “Medical Directors.” This requirement applies whether referring physicians who provide paid consulting services are called “Medical Directors,” “Medical Advisors,” “consulting physicians” or another title. In other words, the prohibition applies to all physicians who make referrals and are paid for services, regardless of their title.

For more information, download a PDF of the entire article.

Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq.
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No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without the advance written permission of the author.