Discharge Planning Conditions of Participation Final Rule

on Tuesday, 22 October 2019. All News Items | Case Management | Documentation | Coding

Sharing Quality Measures with your Patients

The Discharge Planning Conditions of Participation (CoPs) Final Rule was published September 30, 2019. A recent Wednesday@One included an article where MMP shared highlights from the Final Rule.

Overall, CMS seemed to have listened to the 299 comments to the Proposed Rule and subsequently several of the proposals were not finalized.

CMS indicates in the Final Rule that they believe the proposals finalized will empower patients to be active participants in the discharge planning process. One way of empowering the patient is through the finalized proposal requiring hospitals to assist patients, their families, or their caregivers/support persons in selecting a Post-Acute Care (PAC) provider by using and sharing data on quality measures and resource use measures, that includes, but is not limited to, the following PAC providers:

  • Home Health Agencies (HHAs),
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs),
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs), and
  • Long Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs).

This article recaps several of the expectations CMS noted in the final rule regarding the provision of Quality Data and highlights the Compare websites.

CMS Expectations for providing Quality Measure Data

Following is a list of expectations CMS provided in the Final Rule regarding sharing Quality Measure Data. With that said, keep in mind that CMS also indicated more than once in the Final Rule that they will be providing sub-regulatory guidance after the Final Rule is published.

  • Hospitals will have to ensure the PAC data on quality measures and data or resource use measures is relevant and applicable to the patient’s goals of care and treatment preferences,
  • CMS expects hospitals to document in the medical record that the PAC data on quality and resource use measures was shared with the patient and used to assist the patient during the discharge planning process,
  • CMS expects providers to make reasonable efforts to use the quality and resource use measure data that are currently available to them until all measures stipulated in the IMPACT Act are finalized and publicly reported.
  • CMS indicates providers should use data available at the IRF Compare, HH Compare, Nursing Home Compare, and Long-Term Care Hospital Compare websites to assist patients as they choose a PAC provider that aligns with the patient’s goals and treatment preferences, and would expect providers to document all efforts regarding this requirement in the patient’s medical record.
  • CMS notes additional explanations, resources, instructions and help on how to use the Compare Websites are available on the following pertinent websites:
  • CMS believes providers have the ability and knowledge to interpret and discuss the publicly available data at the most basic levels. CMS does not expect providers to give overly detailed and complex analyses of the data as this may only confuse patients and/or caregivers. They also do not expect providers to attempt to provide patients and their caregivers with data that do not exist regarding PAC facilities.
  • CMS does expect providers to answer questions to the best of their ability regarding the data.
  • CMS encourages providers to refer to www.medicare.gov for additional resources and help and to consult the sub-regulatory interpretive guidance that will be available after publication of the final rule.
  • Providers can use additional available information to assist patients as they select a PAC provider, so long as the information presented aligns with the patient’s goals of care and treatment preferences. The IMPACT Act in no way limits providers’ ability to augment the information provided to patients. All attempts to assist patients should be documented in the medical record.
  • CMS believes hospitals, HHAs and CAHs will be in compliance with the Patient Choice requirement if they present objective data on quality and resource use measures specifically applicable to the patient’s goals of care and treatment preferences, taking care to include data on all available PAC providers, and allowing patients and/or their caregivers the freedom to select a PAC provider of their choice.
  • Providers must use and share data on quality measures and data on resource use measures that are relevant and applicable to the patient’s goals of care and treatment preferences. While we believe that resource use data can be helpful to all patients, providers can tailor the specific data that are given to patients so that the data are applicable to the patient’s specific medical condition or circumstance. The provider should ensure that the data given to patients aligns with the patient’s ultimate goals of care and treatment preferences.
  • For patients enrolled in a Managed Care Organization, the hospital must make the patient aware that the patient or caregiver needs to verify the participation of HHAs or SNFs in their network. If the hospital has information regarding which providers participate in the managed care organization’s network, it must share this information with the patient and must document in the patient’s medical record that the list was presented to the patient. The patient or their caregiver/support persons must be informed of the patient’s freedom to choose among providers and to have their expressed wishes respected, whenever possible. The final component of the retained provision would be the hospital’s disclosure of any financial interest in the referred HHA or SNF. However, this section would be revised to include IRFs and LTCHs.

Find & Compare Doctors, Hospitals & Other Providers

The following “Compare” webpages are available at www.medicare.gov:

  • Hospitals,
  • Nursing Homes,
  • Home Health Services,
  • Dialysis Facilities,
  • Long-term Care Hospitals,
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities,
  • Doctors & Other Health Professionals, and
  • Hospice Compare

Navigating the Compare Website:

  • First go to the www.medicare.gov website.
  • Next, click the box with a picture of binoculars and the text “Find Care: Search all providers & facilities” below the binoculars.
  • You will now be on the webpage with links to each of the “Compare” webpages.
    • Click the type of post-acute care you are searching for.
  • At each of the “Compare” webpages, the first thing you will be asked to do is to enter at a minimum the location where you are searching for post-acute providers.
  • This will take you to a page with a list of Providers. You can select up to three Providers to compare at time.

All of the Compare webpages are easy to navigate, even for someone like me who typed my college papers on a Brother typewriter and have learned all I know about computers through on the job training. To provide insight into what is available let’s take a closer look at the Home Health Compare webpage.

Home Health Compare

After searching a specific location you will be taken to the page with a list of Providers. Once on this page you can see star ratings, compare up to three Providers, modify your search and learn more about the Quality of Patient Care and Patient Survey Summary star ratings.

Quality of Patient Care Star Rating

Agencies are rated between 1 and 5 showing how they compare to other home health agencies on performance measures. The ratings are based on 8 quality measure that give a general overview of performance. CMS does note that “since the star rating ranks all agencies from lowest to highest, some agencies will be ranked below others even though they’re providing good quality care.”

Home Health quality measures are divided into the following categories:

  • Managing daily activities
  • Managing pain and treating symptoms
  • Preventing harm
  • Preventing unplanned hospital care
  • Payment and value of care.

Patient Survey Summary Star Rating

CMS utilizes the HHCAHPS (Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems) to rate agencies. As with the quality of patient care ratings, the more stars indicates better quality care. CMS provides the following important things to remember as you compare agencies:

  • The patient experience star ratings are based on the information on quality of care that is reported on Home Health Compare. Not all home health agencies will be represented on the web site.
  • Home Health Compare displays home health agency performance on certain important measures of quality care. Specifically the web site displays the quality of patient care data and patient survey results (which reflect the patient experience of care).
  • Positive results on patient experience of care measures are one aspect of the quality of home health care. Other information may be important to you, like how often an agency initiated patient care in a timely manner, that isn't included in HHCAHPS star ratings.

The HHCAHPS star ratings compare home health agencies to each other. A 1-star rating doesn't mean that you'll get poor care from a home health agency. It means that home health agencies that got 2 or more stars performed better on this particular measure of patient experience of care. For this reason, we suggest that you use the star rating along with other quality information when making decisions about choosing a home health agency.”

Comparing Agencies enables you to see general information about the provider (address, phone number, and services provided) and granular detail about the quality measures and the HHCAHPS that make up an agencies star rating. At this level agencies can be compared to up to two other agencies at a time, the state and national average.

While we wait for the promised sub-regulatory guidance, I encourage you to take the time to become familiar with all of the Compare webpages.


Article by Beth Cobb

Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc.  Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. 

In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Risk Assessment (CRA) Tool. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice.  Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.

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