CMS: CoPs’ effective date won’t change regardless of when final IGs are released

The following is an excerpt from DecisionHealth’s Home Health Line.

The final interpretive guidelines for the revised Home Health Conditions of Participation (CoPs) have not yet been released, but CMS remains full steam ahead on the Jan. 13 effective date for agencies to comply.

It’s possible the final guidelines will be released any day, industry experts say.

But on Jan. 4, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) announced that it had received a message from a CMS official that indicates:

  • Until final guidelines are released, surveyors will use draft guidelines.
  • The final guidelines will be similar to the draft.
  • The final CoPs themselves control survey determinations as opposed to interpretive guidelines.
  • The regulations and guidelines offer flexibility on compliance, with CMS removing “guidance that may have been overly prescriptive.”

NAHC offered the following recommendations for agencies: “Survey management should focus on the regulations over any guidance issued in draft by CMS. If [an agency] is cited for a deficiency but believes that its conduct complied with the applicable regulation, NAHC advises that the [agency] bring the CMS Regional Office into the matter and to convey the incident to NAHC as well. It is anticipated that CMS and surveyors will approach the early stages of the new CoP surveys with an openness rather than a ‘cookbook’ approach to compliance where there is only [one] path to compliance.”

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