NAHC Urges Home Care and Hospice Advocates to Take Grassroots Action and Contact Their Members of Congress During the July 4th Recess
Message to Lawmakers should be: "Home Care and Hospice Promotes Independence of America's Elderly and Individuals with Disabilities"
June 27, 2014 09:06 AM
Members of Congress leave for their July 4 recess this Friday, June 27, and will not return to Washington until July 7. This would be a good time for home care and hospice advocates to be in touch with their Members of Congress back home about home care and hospice issues.
The message to bring to lawmakers during the July 4 recess is: “While we are celebrating our nation’s independence, let’s take this time to celebrate the role that home care and hospice play in maintaining the independence of our nation’s seniors and those who struggle with disabilities, keeping them out of the confines of expensive nursing homes and hospitals and in their homes and communities with friends and family. Let’s oppose putting barriers—such as payment cuts, copays, and unreasonable regulatory burdens like the face-to-face (F2F) physician documentation requirements—in the way of access to home care and hospice. And let’s remove existing barriers to access such as the requirement that only doctors, and not nurse practitioners and physician assistants, can order home health care.”
Actions you may take to deliver this message over the recess include:
A. Visiting with Members of Congress Back Home. Over the congressional July 4th recess many members of Congress will be back in their home districts. You may arrange to visit with them through their local offices. An effective idea is to invite your legislators to accompany representatives of your agency on a home visit as a compelling way to ensure members of Congress are informed about the benefits of home care and hospice. Home care and hospice advocates should attend legislators' public appearances over the recess for a chance to speak up about the importance of home care and hospice issues. Helpful when planning such a contact or visit, many legislators now list their schedules on their websites, or this information can be obtained by calling the member's district office and requesting an itinerary. To obtain contact information for your Members of Congress, go here: Contact Your Elected Officials.
B. Calling Members of Congress. You can communicate to their staff in local or Washington, D.C. offices by phone. When calling, ask the receptionist to connect you with the staffer who handles health care issues.
C. Writing Members of Congress. NAHC suggests faxing or emailing letters to members of Congress to allow the message to get through sooner by avoiding the screening delays that can hamper postal mail delivery. You may easily and effectively email your legislators or obtain their fax numbers using the NAHC Legislative Action Network (NAHC LAN), which allows users to send either an email prepared by NAHC or compose/adjust the message personally. Using the NAHC LAN is easy! Sending messages takes just a few clicks. Enter the required information and then click the "Edit/Send Emails" button under the "Send Emails" paragraph to the right, and a letter will be generated.
To send emails on a variety of important home care and hospice issues, click NAHC Legislative Action Network.
Letters to the Editor and Op-Ed Pieces. Letters to the editor usually must be written in response to an article that has run in a publication's recent issues, such as a newspaper's issues in a given week. Articles covering Medicare, Medicaid, long term care for frail elderly and disabled Americans, or other health care issues could provide an opportunity for a letter. Even if home care or hospice are not mentioned specifically, a letter to the editor can provide additional information that was not part of the article in discussion.
Op-ed columns are brief opinion pieces typically published opposite the editorial page in newspapers. Typically about 600-800 words long, these columns allow the newspaper's readers to present a particular concept or thought in more depth than is possible with a shorter "letter to the editor." Studying the style of a newspaper's previously published op-eds will help provide a sense of the format and approach most likely to appeal to the editor who selects them for publication.
E. Getting Other Like-Minded Individuals Involved. Community or religious-based groups that represent or serve senior communities (e.g., Catholic Charities,
Meals-on-Wheels, and local AARP chapters) can often be enlisted as advocates for home care and hospice. Try to meet with community groups to explain the issues and how they will affect their clients or members. If a face-to-face meeting is too difficult to arrange, try emailing or holding a conference call.
Give the group background information and support. Talking points, tools, and materials can be found on the NAHC LAN. Urge partner organizations to have their staffs write, call, or email their members of Congress and enlist the communities they serve/represent to do so as well. Keep partner groups "in the loop" by updating them on how lobbying efforts are having an effect.
The following are issues that home care and hospice advocates may wish to raise with their Members of Congress over the recess, along with NAHC LAN links that provide background information, talking points, and sample messages on each issue:
Reform the face-to-face physician encounter documentation requirements for home health services -- Write Your Legislators.
Suspend and reassess the Medicare home health rebasing rule -- Write Your Legislators.
Modify the employer responsibilities in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to address home care specific needs --Write Your Legislators.
Oppose home health and hospice payment cuts and copays -- Write Your Legislators(home health); Write Your Legislators (hospice).
Preserve the companionship services exemption -- Write Your Legislators.
Permit Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to sign home health plans of care (Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S.1332;H.R.2504)) -- Write Your Legislators.
Offer incentives for the adoption of telehomecare technologies (Fostering independence through Technology Act (S.596)) -- Send a letter to your Senator.
Refine hospice face-to-face requirement, require demonstration of hospice payment reform, and increase hospice survey frequency (Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment Act (S.1053;H.R.2302)) -- Write Your Legislators.
Define full-time for purposes of the ACA employer mandate as 40 hours a week (S. 1188; H.R.2575; H.R. 2988) -- Write Your Legislators.
For talking points on other priority issues for home care and hospice providers, you may go here--2014 NAHC March on Washington Resources-- and here --Legislative Priorities.