Hospice Special Focus Program Proposal Expected This Summer

The Health Group

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 authorized the Secretary of Health & Human Services to create a Special Focus Program (SFP) which aims to address issues that place hospice beneficiaries at risk for poor quality of care through increased oversight and/or technical assistance. According to CMS, the SFP will help to ensure hospices in the program are held accountable for poor quality of care.

CMS has indicated that a proposal for the structure of the SFP would be included in the home health proposed rules, which is generally issued in mid-summer.

CMS contracted with Abt Associates, Inc. (Abt), an independent research company, to support the development of the hospice SFP. To gain input from key stakeholders on various aspects of the SFP, Abt convened a TEP comprised of a wide range of hospice experts and held four listening sessions with additional stakeholder groups. The TEP and stakeholders opined on the SFP methodology to identify poor performing hospices and other components of the program, including additional oversight and technical assistance to hospices selected for the program to enable continuous improvement.

On April 28, 2023, Abt Associates, Inc. issued their report entitled “2022 Technical Expert Panel and Stakeholder Listening Sessions: Hospice Special Focus Program Summary Report.”  The report is available here

The SFP is only one (1) of the many efforts directed at hospice program integrity.  Hospices need to remain aware of developments regarding SFP as well as other current and planned hospice integrity initiatives of CMS.