(a) Basic rule. An HHA entering the Medicare program on or after January 1, 1998, including a new HHA as a result of a change of ownership, if the change of ownership results in a new provider number being issued, must have available sufficient funds, which we term “initial reserve operating funds,” at the time of application submission and at all times during the enrollment process up to the expiration of the 3-month period following the conveyance of Medicare billing privileges to operate the HHA for the three-month period after Medicare billing privileges are conveyed by the Medicare contractor, exclusive of actual or projected accounts receivable from Medicare.
(b) Standard. Initial reserve operating funds are sufficient to meet the requirement of this section if the total amount of such funds is equal to or greater than the product of the actual average cost per visit of three or more similarly situated HHAs in their first year of operation (selected by CMS for comparative purposes) multiplied by the number of visits projected by the HHA for its first three months of operation - or 22.5 percent (one fourth of 90 percent) of the average number of visits reported by the comparison HHAs - whichever is greater.
(c) Method. CMS, through the intermediary, will determine the amount of the initial reserve operating funds using reported cost and visit data from submitted cost reports for the first full year of operation from at least three HHAs that the intermediary serves that are comparable to the HHA that is seeking to enter the Medicare program, considering such factors as geographic location and urban/rural status, number of visits, provider-based versus free-standing, and proprietary versus non-proprietary status. The determination of the adequacy of the required initial reserve operating funds is based on the average cost per visit of the comparable HHAs, by dividing the sum of total reported costs of the HHAs in their first year of operation by the sum of the HHAs' total reported visits. The resulting average cost per visit is then multiplied by the projected visits for the first three months of operation of the HHA seeking to enter the program, but not less than 90 percent of average visits for a three month period for the HHAs used in determining the average cost per visit.
(1) In selecting the comparative HHAs as described in this paragraph (c), the CMS contractor shall only select HHAs that have provided cost reports to Medicare. When selecting cost reports for the comparative analysis, CMS will exclude low utilization or no utilization cost reports.
(d) Required proof of availability of initial reserve operating funds. The HHA must provide CMS with adequate proof of the availability of initial reserve operating funds. Such proof, at a minimum, will include a copy of the statement(s) of the HHA's savings, checking, or other account(s) that contains the funds, accompanied by an attestation from an officer of the bank or other financial institution that the funds are in the account(s) and that the funds are immediately available to the HHA. In some cases, an HHA may have all or part of the initial reserve operating funds in cash equivalents. For the purpose of this section, cash equivalents are short-term, highly liquid investments that are readily convertible to known amounts of cash and that present insignificant risk of changes in value. A cash equivalent that is not readily convertible to a known amount of cash as needed during the initial three month period for which the initial reserve operating funds are required does not qualify in meeting the initial reserve operating funds requirement. Examples of cash equivalents for the purpose of this section are Treasury bills, commercial paper, and money market funds. As with funds in a checking, savings, or other account, the HHA also must be able to document the availability of any cash equivalents. CMS later may require the HHA to furnish another attestation from the financial institution that the funds remain available, or, if applicable, documentation from the HHA that any cash equivalents remain available, until a date when the HHA will have been surveyed by the State agency or by an approved accrediting organization. The officer of the HHA who will be certifying the accuracy of the information on the HHA's cost report must certify what portion of the required initial reserve operating funds is non-borrowed funds, including funds invested in the business by the owner. That amount must be at least 50 percent of the required initial reserve operating funds. The remainder of the reserve operating funds may be secured through borrowing or line of credit from an unrelated lender.
(e) Borrowed funds. If borrowed funds are not in the same account(s) as the HHA's own non-borrowed funds, the HHA also must provide proof that the borrowed funds are available for use in operating the HHA, by providing, at a minimum, a copy of the statement(s) of the HHA's savings, checking, or other account(s) containing the borrowed funds, accompanied by an attestation from an officer of the bank or other financial institution that the funds are in the account(s) and are immediately available to the HHA. As with the HHA's own (that is, non-borrowed) funds, CMS later may require the HHA to establish the current availability of such borrowed funds, including furnishing an attestation from a financial institution or other source, as may be appropriate, and to establish that such funds will remain available until a date when the HHA will have been surveyed by the State agency or by an approved accrediting organization.
(f) Line of credit. If the HHA chooses to support the availability of a portion of the initial reserve operating funds with a line of credit, it must provide CMS with a letter of credit from the lender. CMS later may require the HHA to furnish an attestation from the lender that the HHA, upon its certification into the Medicare program, continues to be approved to borrow the amount specified in the letter of credit.
(g) Billing Privileges.
(1) CMS may deny Medicare billing privileges to an HHA unless the HHA meets the initial reserve operating funds requirements of this section.
(2) CMS may revoke the Medicare billing privileges of an HHA that fails to maintain and comply with the initial reserve operating funds requirements of this section for the three-month period after it receives its Medicare billing privileges.