51 Organizations Send Letter in Support of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act
December 11, 2014 12:45 PM
A group of 51 organizations representing the interests of a wide range of shareholders – from elderly care advocacy groups to medical societies, religious organizations to those seeking to preserve Medicare and Social Security – recently sent a letter to the leading sponsors and cosponsors of both the House and Senate versions of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act. The letter was addressed to Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and indicated the organization’s continued support of the legislation.
NAHC is one of the signatories to the letter that was sent, and has been a longtime supporter of allowing nurses to sign home health plans of care. Recently, NAHC held its first Social Media Advocacy Day, where it urged its members to contact their elected officials to support this legislation.
The letter states that:
“Thank you for championing the bipartisan Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (H. R. 2504/S.1332) legislation. We, the undersigned groups, pledge our continued support of your efforts to obtain passage before the end of the year. As you know, the bill authorizes nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants as eligible health care professionals who can certify patient eligibility for home health care services under Medicare. This critical change would improve access to important home health care services, and potentially prevent additional hospital, sub-acute care facility and nursing home admissions—all of which are costly to the consumer, the taxpayer and Medicare…
Although current law has long recognized advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants as authorized Medicare providers, and allows these clinicians to certify eligibility for nursing home care for their patients, it precludes these same practitioners from certifying patient eligibility for home health care services. This is an unnecessary barrier to care and adds at least one more step in the process of accessing home health care services by requiring the provider to find a physician to certify eligibility…
Advanced practice registered nurses are often the only care providers available in health professional shortage areas such as urban, rural, and frontier regions. Given the existing and future projected primary care physician shortages, and the coming of increased numbers of Medicare eligible patients, the need will be even greater for all qualified providers to be allowed to certify home health care eligibility.
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act would help to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries in need of home health care services whose providers are nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants would be able to directly access home health care by referral from their providers. This bill would provide beneficiaries continued access to care and increase the likelihood that they would experience better health and a higher quality of life. Additionally, outside experts assessed the impact of the bill earlier this year and projected a Medicare savings of $7.1 million in 2015 and up to a ten-year savings of $252.6 million. This analysis also notes the potential to reduce beneficiary admissions to and lengths of stay in institutional settings under the policy change.
It is important that this legislation pass and be placed on the President’s desk for signature. The time is now to ensure that patients have timely access to the quality, cost effective care they need.”
To read the full letter, please click here.