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Testimonials

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. 

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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.

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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

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

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 element...it’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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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National Council of Aging

Health 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.

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Former President Bill Clinton

NGA Submits Medicaid Reform Proposals to Administration

March 11, 2014 03:40 PM

On February 24, the National Governors Association (NGA) delivered its proposals for Medicaid reform to President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. These recommendations echo the NGA Health Care Sustainability Task Force Report (the Report), which the NGA approved February 22. The Council discusses the major provisions in the Report relating to Medicaid home care below.

About the Task Force

The Health Care Sustainability Task Force (the Task Force) is a bipartisan group of twelve (12) governors, including: Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR); Gov. Robert Bentley (R-AL); Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA); Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY); Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R-SD); Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN) (co-chair); Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT); Gov. John Kizhaber (D-OR) (co-chair); Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) (ex-officio); Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM); Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) (ex-officio); and Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT).

The staff advisory committee of the Task Force met from May through November 2013. The Task Force developed four key areas for recommendations to Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reform health care in the states:

1) federal support of state health care innovation;

2) Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees (Dual Eligibles);

3) long-term services and supports (LTSS); and

4) payment and delivery reform.

Federal Support of State Health Care Innovations

The Task Force made the following recommendations, among others, regarding federal support of state health care innovations:

  • Standardize and streamline the state plan amendment and waiver proposal process in Medicaid innovation;
  • Streamline the ability for states to replicate previously approved state amendments and waivers adopted by other states;
  • Create a “path to permanency” for Medicaid waivers, especially those relating to managed care; and
  • Create clearer objectives in quality and performance for state health care transformation proposals.

Analysis

The National Council on Medicaid Home Care – a NAHC affiliate - supports streamlining the waiver and state plan amendment process, as it will improve access to home and community-based services (HCBS).

As stated in a previous Council brief in January, the new HCBS final rule published by CMS is a good step in this direction. Additionally, supporting permanent waivers in managed care will reflect the growing reality that managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) is here to stay.

Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees (Dual Eligibles)

The Task Force made the following recommendations, among others, regarding dual eligibles:

  • Have a formal process to pursue dual eligible demonstrations, like the D-SNP demonstrations, that are alternatives to the Financial Alignment Initiative (FAI);
  • Create a federal/state workgroup to determine policies that would allow states to serve more populations in their dual eligible programs and to allow states more flexibility to finance these programs, for example through a shared savings component;
  • Develop through the National Committee for Quality Assurance standardized “a standard set of performance measures around quality and access”;
  • Devise more effective policy for “pre-duals,” i.e. “high-cost Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions and functional impairments who are in the process of spending down personal assets to Medicaid eligibility” and “partial duals” who are enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program through Medicaid; and
  • Establish various cost-shifting proposals which would limit cost-shifting from Medicare to Medicaid.

Analysis

The Council agrees with these recommendations. Given the numerous delays and complaints surrounding the FAI, encouraging alternatives to the FAI - like Minnesota's, for example - is critical to ensure improved coordination of care and expenditures for the dual population.  An alternative option would be extremely beneficial for states like Arizona and Tennessee, who dropped the FAI as they perceived it in direct competition with their D-SNP programs.

The Report is also rightfully concerned about quality and access, as stakeholders claim the FAI compromises quality of care through the incentives of its shared savings program, as well as continuity of care. Having a standard set of performance measures would best enable states to measure the effectiveness of dual eligible initiatives.

Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS)

The Task Force made the following recommendations, among others, regarding LTSS:

  • Provide incentives for family caregiving and/or private reimbursement of LTSS;
  • Create a demonstration project for providing LTSS to disabled individuals who choose to work; and
  • Allow states to expand Medicaid coverage to provide personal care attendants and other support services for disabled individuals and those with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty line regardless of level of care.

Analysis

While promising, the Council is wary of the Report’s recommendation for incentives for family caregiving. In October’s AARP Solutions ForumModernizing Medicaid: Putting Home and Community-Based Services on Equal Footing with Nursing Homes, both Josefina Carbonell, Senior Vice President for Long-Term Care and Nutrition, Independent Living Systems LLC, and Charles Milligan, Jr. Deputy Secretary, Health Care Financing, Maryland Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene, stressed the importance of incentivizing family caregiving. 

As recent legislation in Georgia highlights, family caregivers are unpaid, overworked, and undertrained, and are thus not adequately equipped to provide the care that is demanded of them. While New Hampshire is moving forward with a modest family support program, the Council is concerned that even such modest proposals of incentivizing family caregiving will “mission creep” into unreasonable demands on family caregivers, such as those in Georgia.

Regarding LTSS, the Task Force also called for several pro-HCBS measures:

  • Include HCBS programs, such as the Balancing Incentive Program and the Money Follows the Person demonstration, into a streamlined, permanent optional state plan benefit;
  • Consolidate waivers with a uniform quality measure set, and streamline reporting requirements;
  • Provide FFP to states that provide HCBS that reduces inpatient care and corresponding costs to the non-Medicaid population; and
  • Provide limited FFP for room and board in community-based residential alternative settings

Analysis

As the Council recently reported, the new HCBS rule clarified that room and board costs are unallowable under the HCBS 1915(i) state plan benefit, with limited exceptions such as temporary food and shelter in a facility providing respite care services. The Council supports the increased reimbursement of room and board costs wherever possible, so long as CMS does not reimburse these at the expense of other home care payments.

Some of the LTSS recommendations specifically support re-balancing:

  • Further incentivize HCBS within the Balancing Incentive Program by giving states enhanced federal financial participation (FFP) if they increase utilization of HCBS as a percentage of total LTSS beneficiaries; and
  • Make HCBS, not institutional care, the default LTSS, and make it so individuals must be informed of HCBS and affirmatively choose institutional care before being placed in an institution.

Analysis

The Council supports greater incentives for HCBS.   Incentivizing HCBS will further improve availability of these services, as stakeholders will be more motivated to participate in rebalancing.  One thing that the NGA did not mention in its Report which would further HCBS, and rebalancing specifically, would be to support legislation and/or funding that would eliminate HCBS waitlists in states.

Payment and Delivery Reform

The Task Force made the following recommendation, among others, regarding payment and delivery reform:

  • Give states enhanced FFP if their integrated models (i.e. health homes, Medicaid accountable care organizations)) demonstrate federal savings.

To see the full report, click here.

Conclusion

The Council encourages providers to continue advocating for favorable Medicaid reforms through their state associations, as well as through state and federal governments. Home care providers are encouraged to keep abreast of developments with regard to waivers, dual eligibles, HCBS, and payment and delivery reform in their states and nationally, and to contact the Council with any questions or concerns.

 

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