HHS tells Congress PPS on track

WASHINGTON – Department of Health and Human Services (HHS; Washington) Secretary Donna Shalala told Congress earlier this month that the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA; Baltimore) is leaning toward a per-episode rather than a per-visit prospective payment system (PPS) for home care. Shalala reported that HHS’s per-episode PPS demonstration project reduced the cost per episode by 13% and utilization by 17%, while the per-visit demonstration actually increased the number of visits rendered.

Shalala reassured Congress that PPS will be in place by the Oct. 1, 2000, deadline, but industry observers were immediately alarmed by the timeframes she outlined. For example, HCFA will only have "approximately 30 days of national OASIS data on hand for the standardization of rates" when it must draft the proposed rule. The report indicates that agencies will begin collecting OASIS data next month and reporting that data in April. According to this timetable, the proposed rule would be published in the Federal Register in October, followed by a final rule in early 2000.