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Home Health Agencies' Emergency Communication Plans: Strengths and Challenges Ensuring Continuity of Care During Disasters

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of emerging infectious disease (EID) preparedness in health care facilities, including home health agencies (HHAs). OIG has ongoing work reviewing HHA preparedness for EIDs. However, HHAs also must prepare for other types of emergencies. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and fires continue to threaten operations, even as HHAs continue to address the impact of COVID-19. In 2020, the United States experienced a record number of natural disasters, and Federal scientists predict a greater number of hurricanes and storms in 2021. Previous natural disasters highlighted vulnerabilities in HHAs' preparedness for disasters, specifically with regards to communication and continuity of care. Since November 2017, HHAs have had to comply with CMS Emergency Preparedness Conditions of Participation (EP CoPs). As part of these EP CoPs, CMS requires HHAs to develop communication plans that must include information necessary to ensure continuity of care during any emergency. This evaluation will determine selected HHAs' compliance with EP CoPs and will report factors these HHAs identify as hindering and/or supporting continuity of care during a disaster.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
July 2021 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Home Health Agencies' Emergency Communication Plans: Strengths and Challenges Ensuring Continuity of Care During Disasters Office of Evaluation and Inspections OEI-04-21-00280 2023