CMS finalizes discharge planning rule

October 1, 2019
Medicare Web

CMS issued a final rule last week reforming the discharge planning process for hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAH), and home health agencies (HHA) that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The rule is intended to allow patients to make “informed decisions” during the discharge planning process, according to CMS.

Under the new provisions, hospitals, CAHs, and HHAs must help patients select post-acute care (PAC) options by sharing relevant and applicable data on a PAC’s quality and services, as mandated by the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014.

“By demystifying the discharge planning process, we are improving care coordination and making the system work better for patients.” CMS administrator Seema Verma said in a CMS press release. “Patients will now no longer be an afterthought; they’ll be in the driver’s seat, playing an active role in their care transitions to ensure seamless coordination of care.”

The changes also require hospitals, CAHs, and HHAs to share necessary medical information, such as illness and treatment, goals of care, and treatment preferences, with other healthcare providers when discharging, transferring, or referring patients. A “patient’s healthcare information follows them after discharge from a hospital or PAC provider,” the CMS press release said.

Also under the new rule, hospitals must give patients their medical records in whatever form and format requested by the patient, if that form and format is “readily producible.”

The new requirements, which take effect November 29, 2019, have been in the works for years. After first proposing the discharge planning rule in November 2015, CMS announced a one-year extension to finalize the rule in November 2018.

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