Hospice providers are glad there’s a planned payment increase for fiscal year 2025, but the 2.6% pitched in the CMS hospice proposed rule is not enough to cover climbing operational costs. 
Hospice providers have a little more time to make sure that physicians certifying hospice services have either enrolled in Medicare or proactively opted out, as CMS has delayed this new requirement until June 3.
Hospice providers have to stay prepared for patients who live past their six-month lifespan, but they also need to make sure they’re in compliance with CMS and Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) regulations, as any significant length of stay is a target for audits.
CMS quietly updated model examples in March for the Notice of Election Statement (NOE) and the Patient Notification of Hospice Non-Covered Items, Services and Drugs, also known as the election statement addendum.
Hospice providers will need to prioritize staff education this year around the CAHPS Hospice Survey, with significant changes expected to begin with collections in January 2025.
CMS said it is ending the hospice benefit test “after carefully considering recent feedback about the increasing operational challenges of the Hospice Benefit Component and limited and decreasing participation among MAOs that may impact a thorough evaluation.”
With increased audit activity around hospice services, agencies should be prepared to handle a variety of audit types, sometimes for the same services, at any given time.
While many of the most common hospice principal diagnoses remained the same as previous years, one code, I63.9 (Cerebral infarction, unspecified), stood out to experts for making the list.
Hospice experts were surprised to see I63.9 (Cerebral infarction, unspecified) among the top 20 reported hospice principal diagnoses.
CMS is moving forward with the hospice Special Focus Program, effective January 1. Unfortunately, it’s too late for hospices to make changes to avoid being selected for the program.


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