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Medicare Accreditation for Home Health Care

Today, the great majority of home health care agencies obtained Medicare Certification by undergoing Medicare Accreditation with one of the three major Accrediting Bodies: the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc (ACHC), Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), or The Joint Commission (“JTC”) (formerly known as the “Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations or “JCAHO”) .

When Home Health Agencies were first being established in the ’60s and ’70s, Medicare Certification was carried out exclusively by the states which performed inspections and reported results to CMS.

Beginning in the late 1960s the Community Health Accreditation Program began Medicare Accrediting Home Health Care Agencies after they had been Medicare Certified. Medicare Accreditation thus began as an “add-on” seal of approval which helped home health care agencies advertise their expertise and distinguish them from competitors. JCAHO followed CHAP’s lead several years later.

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The process of Certification followed by Accreditation stayed consistent until 1992 when CHAP was granted ‘deemed status” by CMS. This meant that a CHAP Survey could take the place of the Accreditation Surveys previously administered by the states instead of being Certified and then Medicare Accredited, home health care agencies would first be Medicare Accredited and then Medicare Certified dependent upon review “automatically by CMS.” In 1993 JCAHO also obtained deemed status on a national basis. ACHC achieve deemed status in 2009.

Today CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Program) is by a good margin the largest of the three Accrediting Bodies in terms of Medicare Accreditation for home health care agencies.

Gradually, states stopped performing Accreditation surveys. Today, there are only a handful that still do.

The “seal of approval” that Accrediting bodies provide has increasingly become more important as it is required by many Medicare HMO, ACOs and insurance companies.

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