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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

House Energy and Commerce Committee Holds Hearing on Permanent SGR Repeal and Replacement

Committee Wrestles with How to Offset the Cost
January 23, 2015 12:20 PM

Earlier this week, the powerful House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health convened a hearing entitled “A Permanent Solution to the SGR: The Time Is Now”.  The purpose of the hearing was to discuss ways to advance a legislative solution to the flawed Medicare physician reimbursement formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), including how to offset the cost. 

During the hearing, several of the witnesses endorsed proposals to restructure Medicare and increase cost sharing for seniors, including a home health copay. NAHC submitted a statement for the record urging the subcommittee to reject any proposal to impose a home health copayment to help offset the cost of the SGR fix. 

To view the NAHC statement, click here.

Witnesses for the first day’s panel included Joseph I. Lieberman, former United States Senator; Alice Rivlin, Co-Chair, Delivery System Reform Initiative, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), and Director, Engelberg Center for Health Reform, the Brookings Institution; and Marilyn Moon, Institute Fellow at the American Institutes for Research.  The second day’s panel included physician and nurse practitioner groups, the American Hospital Association, and AARP.  Go here for more on the hearing.

Of note, last year the House Ways and Means Committee, House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senate Finance Committee put forth a bill that would have repealed and replaced the SGR while instituting a 0.5% payment update for five years. The bill (H.R. 4015) passed the House in March but failed to advance in the Senate. On April 1, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law theProtecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) (Public Law No: 113-93), which extended Medicare physician pay rates for one year. The legislation served as a “patch” that prevented physician reimbursement rates from being slashed by 24% after March 31st, as was scheduled to occur under the SGR formula in the absence of Congressional action. This was the 17th such SGR “patch” enacted in the previous 11 years.

A key issue during the hearing – and one that sharply divided Democrats and Republicans – is not necessarily that a repeal to the SGR is needed, but rather if an offset needs to be included to pay for such repeal. The cost of such an offset is estimated to be about $140 billion.

The last SGR patch did not include any offsets in the form of cuts or copayments from the home health or hospice Medicare benefits. Other Medicare provider sectors sustained cuts to offset the cost of the SGR patch, including skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and clinical labs.  The SGR patch expires March 31, requiring that either a permanent fix or another patch be enacted by then to avoid a 21 percent cut in physician payments.  Home care and hospice advocates at NAHC’s upcoming March on Washington March 22-25 will have the opportunity to urge their Members of Congress to reject any proposal to impose home health and hospice payment cuts and copays to offset the cost of the SGR fix. 

Despite significant support to use the SGR repeal to make structural changes to the Medicare program, Marilyn Moon of the American Institutes for Research stated that the SGR is “poor public policy and ought to be fixed”, but she insisted that “beneficiaries should not be penalized for the poor policy making that occurred fifteen years ago”. Moon challenged the assumption that any SGR fix proposals must be tied to program cuts, insisting that “nothing about Medicare’s stability requires that the Part B change (physician fix) be covered by some type of benefit cuts elsewhere”. She suggested that “unwise policies” across the federal government should be targeted as savings generators to offset SGR replacement, such as closing tax loopholes. Moon rejected proposals to increase Part B and D premiums, raise cost sharing requirements for beneficiaries, and raise the eligibility age. AARP also weighed in strongly against shifting more Medicare costs on to seniors through copays or other means and suggested savings could be achieved from prescription drug and Medicare Advantage reforms. 

To send a letter to your lawmakers urging them not to impose home health copayments or payment cuts to pay for the SGR fix, please visit NAHC’s new Legislative Action Center.

To protect hospice from being used to pay for the SGR fix, please click here.

 

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