Governor Susana Martinez Calls on Federal Government to Pass Legislation Allowing Nursing Professionals to Certify Home Health Care and Hospice Services
Says Federal Action is Required to Help Meet Increasing Demand for Primary Care; New Mexico Association for Home and Hospice Care Executive Director Joie Glenn Offers Support
May 9, 2014 02:07 PM
Governor Susana Martinez (D-NM) has called on the federal government to allow nursing professionals to certify home health care and hospice services for Medicare beneficiaries. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Governor Martinez called on the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that allows nurse practitioners to certify and make changes to home health plans of care to make these services eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
National Nurses Week runs from Tuesday May 6 to Monday May 12.
“Nursing professionals are critical to meeting increasing demand for health care services,” said Governor Martinez. “To help meet these needs, the federal government must empower nurse practitioners to take a leadership role in home health and hospice care, in particular. These changes are important to ensuring that our families and communities have access to the high-quality health care they need and deserve, particularly in rural and underserved areas.”
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) as H.R. 2504 and in the U.S. Senate by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) as S. 1332, seeks to amend the Social Security Act to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives to certify and make changes to home health plans of care.
“We applaud Governor Martinez’s continuing support of New Mexico’s patients and providers,” said New Mexico Association for Home and Hospice Care Executive Director Joie Glenn. “This legislation is so important to our home care and hospice patients, particularly in rural and underserved areas where often times there aren’t physicians available to certify and make changes to plans of care. Our nursing professionals are highly trained and skilled, and this legislation will allow them to help provide better care to patients.”
In her letter to Secretary Sebelius, Governor Martinez stated that:
“A report recently produced by the National Governor’s Association (NGA), The Role of Nurse Practitioners in Meeting Increased Demand for Primary Care, supports an increased use of nurse practitioners to address the serious challenges states face in meeting this increased demand for services. Additionally, a seminal report published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in October 2010, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommends that nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists be allowed to certify a patient for home health services.
Barriers remain, however, that prevent nurse practitioners from extending care to a particular and important part of the population – those in need of home health care and hospice services. This particular barrier can only be addressed at the federal level.
As far back as 1997, the federal government authorized payment for nurse practitioners for Medicare patients. However the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continues to prohibit nurse practitioners from certifying home health and hospice services to Medicare beneficiaries. According to CMS, the Medicare statute requires “physician” certification on a home health plan of care. Patients who are unable to receive home health and hospice services are at grave risk of deteriorating conditions and resulting admission to higher levels of care, such as hospitalization at a far greater cost to the Medicare program. Access to hospice services is likewise hindered; CMS allows nurse practitioners to function as a patient’s hospice attending physician, but they may not certify a patient’s terminal illness.”
To read the governor’s full letter to Secretary Sebelius, please click here.