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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

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

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.

Former President Bill Clinton

Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals Seeks Input on Ways to Reduce Medicare Appeal Backlog

November 11, 2014 03:41 PM

The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) has published a “Request for Information” regarding the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Program for Medicare Claim Appeals. The Request follows a recent OMHA Medicare Appellant Forum held in Washington, D.C. where OMHA officials detailed the ever-increasing appeal backlog along with its initiatives to bring greater efficiencies and productivities into the ALJ appeal process.

Nearly 900,000 ALJ level appeals are awaiting assignment and processing.  The assignment of appeals to ALJs has been suspended since July 2013 due to the volume of pending appeals. The majority of the backlogged appeals involve hospital challenges to retroactive claim rejections by a Recovery Audit Contractor. The second highest volume involves Durable Medical equipment appeals, primarily because of the monthly rental billings method. It is estimated that there are approximately 30,000 home health and hospice ALJ appeals pending, many of which stem from state Medicaid program appeals involving dual-eligibles.

Since the explosion in backlogged appeals began, OMHA has instituted a wide range of improvements designed to take advantage of technological innovations, streamlined processing systems, and additional monies in its budget. For example, OMHA recently open a Kansas City regional office with seven ALJ teams capable of handling 7,000 hearings a year. However, it is highly unlikely that these improvements will do more than put a dent into the 13-14,000 new hearing requests received each week.

Still, OMHA wants to hear from anyone with a good idea. It is expected that the OMHA settlement conference option will soon become operational. Also, the use of a voluntary appeals sampling approach is underway for those providers with multiple appeals in the backlog.

NAHC views the backlog as insurmountable in the absence of intervention by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Earlier this year, NAHC recommended that CMS institute a mass settlement option that offers the home health and hospice community a quick and simple process for a compromise settlement based on historical ALJ reversal rates.

CMS recently announced a similar settlement option to hospitals wherein an appellant hospital would receive 68 cents per dollar in dispute to drop its appeals.  With the high volume of face-to-face physician encounter denials inflicted on home health agencies, a comparable settlement option might be worth considering. NAHJC is continuing in its efforts to create such an option as an alternative to waiting for an ALJ hearing several years from now.

NAHC also believes that the hearing backlog is due, at least partially, to avoidable errors in the initial decisions issued by Medicare contractors. For example, home health agencies are receiving face-to-face physician encounter denials that are based on the failure of the physician to include “MD” after his/her signature. While NAHC finds no support for such denials in Medicare rules and regulations, at a most it is a minor error or omission that the provider should be permit to correct rather than resort to costly appeals.

The Request for Information can be found here. Comments must be submitted no later than 5PM EST on December 5, 2014.




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