NAHC’s Legislative Year in Review: Some Important Successes and Some Battles Left to Fight
January 7, 2014 10:16 AM
After a year filled with challenges for the home care and hospice community, 2013 ended on a positive note with several important successes. Both the House and Senate were able to agree on a budget deal that saw no new Medicare home health or hospice payment cuts and no home health or hospice copayments - two significant victories for NAHC and its members. Congress returned this week for the second session of the 113th Congress.
For more on the budget deal please see NAHC Report from December 17, 2013.
In terms of other success during the year, NAHC saw legislative accomplishments with respect to the introduction of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act that would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to sign home health plans of care; the introduction of the Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment (HELP) Act that would refine the hospice face-to-face requirement, require a demonstration of hospice payment reform, and increase hospice survey frequency; and the introduction of a bill that would modify the Affordable Care Act to define full time for purposes of the ACA employer obligations as 40 hours rather than 30 hours.
2013 also saw the inclusion of several NAHC-initiated pieces of legislation in the broader Senate Medicare physician payment fix package (SGR) - which Congress is scheduled to take up in the coming months. Both the Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act and a bill to allow physician assistants to act as the hospice attending physician were included in the Senate’s language.
For more on the introduction of the nurse practitioner bill, please click here.
For more on the FITT Act, please click here.
For more on the HELP Act, please click here.
To learn more about preserving access to home care under the ACA, please click here for NAHC’s efforts to modify the employer mandate under the ACA, and click here for more on the 40 Hours is Full Time legislation.
For more on the campaign to require CMS to reconsider the Home Health rebasing rule, please click here.
For more on the campaign to oppose home health copays and payment cuts, please click here.
For more on the campaign to oppose hospice copays and payment cuts, please click here.
For more on the campaign to preserve the companions services exemption, please click here.
While 2013 saw many successes, challenges loom large for providers of home care and hospice services. Both CMS' flawed and misguided rebasing rule and the Department of Labor's new companionship rule could have serious consequences with respect to both access to home care and the providers’ ability to keep their doors open. NAHC issued many resources on both subjects during 2013 to make the strongest case possible that both rules could result in access to vital home health services being restricted.
During 2013, NAHC and its legislative allies in both the House and Senate were very active in demonstrating their opposition to CMS’ rebasing rule. In the Senate, a Dear Colleague letter circulated which garnered the signatures of 51 Senators opposing the proposed rebasing rule. Additionally, Senate Small Business Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) both sent their own letters to CMS opposing the rebasing rule.
In the House, 143 Representatives from diverse political backgrounds signed onto a Dear Colleague letter opposing CMS’ rebasing efforts. Even though a legislative fix could not be completed before year’s end, NAHC and many of its supporters remain committed to overturning or modifying CMS’ rebasing rule.
In 2014, NAHC’s March on Washington aims to pick up where 2013 left off – in terms of both continuing with legislative successes as well as fighting to overturn rules that will harm thehome care community.
NAHC encourages all of its members to join with their colleagues and peers during this year’s March on Washington – March 23 – 26 in Washington, DC – to continue make the strongest case possible for preserving access to quality home care and hospice services.
Please click here to learn more about this year’s March on Washington.