CUMBERLAND — Nurse practitioners in Maryland are now authorized to certify home health care services for Medicare beneficiaries.

Under the previous Medicare regulations, a nurse practitioner could provide primary care services but only a physician could order the patient to receive home health care services.

The push to change the existing policy was championed by Western Maryland Health System President and CEO Barry Ronan.

“When I learned that the 5,300 nurse practitioners who had full practice authority in Maryland were not permitted by CMS to write orders for home care services, I realized that something had to be done,” Ronan said. “I am extremely grateful that the leadership at both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations, the Maryland Hospital Association and Bobby Neal, Maryland’s secretary of health, were receptive to the recommendation that a demonstration project be created for NPs in Maryland being permitted to write orders for home care. This action no longer interrupts the continuum of care for NPs in the treatment of their patients.”

Maryland is the only state to allow NPs to write the home health care orders.

“The previous policy excluded nurse practitioners and was completely antithetical to the mission of this state, which is value-based care and care in the most appropriate location,” said Dr. Gerald Goldstein, WMHS senior vice president and chief medical officer.

“We have been carefully decreasing unnecessary length of stay and utilization. We place patients in the correct location, but because a patient’s primary care provider happens to be a nurse practitioner, the patient is unable to receive home care while under their care.”

“This opens the patients’ doors to us,” said Sharon Mason, WMHS director of home health and hospice services.

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