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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Heath care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

CMS Updates Its Coverage Manual to Comply with the Jimmo v. Sebelius Decision

December 17, 2013 10:12 AM

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued manual guidance - Change Request  8458 - related to the Jimmo v. Sebelius lawsuit decision. The lawsuit puts an end to the Medicare contractors applying an improvement standard for Medicare covered services. CMS has consistently stated that the decision does not alter the Medicare benefit in any way, but serves to clarify that coverage of skilled nursing and therapy services does not require that  the beneficiary have a  potential for improvement, but rather that the beneficiary is in need of skilled care.

Relative portions of the manuals for Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF), Home Health (HH), and Outpatient (OPT) coverage have been updated.

The following are some significant aspects of the manual clarifications now being issued:

  • No “Improvement Standard” is to be applied in determining Medicare coverage for maintenance claims that require skilled care

Medicare has long recognized that even in situations where no improvement is possible, skilled care may nevertheless be needed for maintenance purposes - i.e., to prevent or slow a decline in condition. The Medicare statute and regulations have never supported the imposition of an “Improvement Standard” rule-of-thumb in determining whether skilled care is required to prevent or slow deterioration in a patient’s condition. Thus, such coverage depends not on the beneficiary’s restoration potential, but on whether skilled care is required, along with the underlying reasonableness and necessity of the services themselves. The manual revisions will serve to reflect and articulate this basic principle more clearly.

  • Enhanced guidance on appropriate documentation

Portions of the revised manual provisions now include additional material on the role of appropriate documentation in facilitating accurate coverage determinations for claims involving skilled care. While the presence of appropriate documentation is not, in and of itself, an element of the definition of a “skilled” service, such documentation serves as the means by which a provider would be able to establish and a Medicare contractor would be able to confirm that skilled care is, in fact, needed and received in a given case. CMS has decided to use this opportunity to introduce additional guidance in this area, both generally and as it relates to particular clinical scenarios.

For example, CMS has added the following documentation guidance to the home health coverage manual for General Principles Governing Reasonable and Necessary Skilled Nursing: 

“...As such, it is expected that the home health records for every visit will reflect the need for the skilled medical care provided. These clinical notes are also expected to provide important communication among all members of the home care team regarding the development, course and outcomes of the skilled observations, assessments, treatment and training performed. Taken as a whole then, the clinical notes are expected to tell the story of the patient’s achievement towards his/her goals as outlined in the Plan of Care. In this way, the notes will serve to demonstrate why a skilled service is needed.

Therefore the home health clinical notes must document as appropriate:

  • the history and physical exam pertinent to the day’s visit, (including the response or changes in behavior to previously administered skilled services) and the skilled services applied on the current visit, and
  • the patient/caregiver’s response to the skilled services provided, and
  • the plan for the next visit based on the rationale of prior results,
  • a detailed rationale that explains the need for the skilled service in light of the patient’s overall medical condition and experiences,
  • the complexity of the service to be performed, and
  • any other pertinent characteristics of the beneficiary or home

Clinical notes should be written so that they adequately describe the reaction of a patient to his/her skilled care. Clinical notes should also provide a clear picture of the treatment, as well as “next steps” to be taken. Vague or subjective descriptions of the patient’s care should not be used. For example terminology such as the following would not adequately describe the need for skilled care:

  • Patient tolerated treatment well
  • Caregiver instructed in medication management
  • Continue with POC”


  • The Settlement Agreement

The Jimmo v. Sebelius settlement agreement itself includes language specifying that, Nothing in this Settlement Agreement modifies, contracts, or expands the existing eligibility requirements for receiving Medicare coverage.” Rather, the intent is to clarify Medicare’s longstanding policy that when skilled services are required in order to provide care that is reasonable and necessary to prevent or slow further deterioration, coverage cannot be denied based on the absence of potential for improvement or restoration.

By contrast, coverage in this context would not be available in a situation where the beneficiary’s maintenance care needs can be addressed safely and effectively through the use of nonskilled personnel. As such, the revised manual material does not represent an expansion of coverage, but rather, provides clarifications that are intended to help ensure that claims are adjudicated accurately and appropriately in accordance with the existing policy.

Because the Medicare contractors will be looking at these enhanced elements in the Medicare coverage manual to determine reasonable and necessary skilled services, agencies are encouraged to closely review the manual updates.

Click here to view CR 8458.








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