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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

Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Holds Hearing on Rural Health

May 15, 2015 03:03 PM

Senator Roy Blunt R-Mo., Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies held a hearing last week to gather testimony from government experts and providers on the unique health care needs of rural communities.  In his opening statement Senator Blunt stated, “One of the priorities of the committee and one of my priorities has been to ensure that all Americans have access to quality and affordable health care in their local communities regardless of where they live.  The obstacle faced by rural patients and providers are unique and often significantly different from those in urban areas.” Blunt continued, “I think that it is critically important that Washington realize that health care access is essential for the survival and success of rural communities.”

The committee heard testimony from Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator and director, Center for Medicare, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Tom Morris, associate administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration; Tim Wolters, director of Reimbursement, Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, Mo., and reimbursement specialist, Lake Regional Health System, Osage Beach, Mo.; Kristi Henderson, chief telehealth and innovation officer, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Miss.; Julie Peterson, CEO, PMH Medical Center, Prosser, Wash.; and George Stover, CEO, Rice County Hospital District 1, Lyons, Kan.

Many federal programs, including telehealth initiatives, make a significant difference in rural healthcare and should be continued, rural hospital representatives testified during a recent Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. Opening statements covered the need to support critical access hospitals and rural health clinics as well a need for the expanded use of telehealth in rural communities.  Below are excerpts from their testimony:

Cavanaugh stated, “CMS recognizes the challenges faced by beneficiaries and providers in rural areas. We are helping to address provider shortages through the Critical Access Hospital and Rural Health Clinic programs, and expanding the use of telehealth.”

Morris specified, “Telehealth plays an important role in enhancing the reach of the health care workforce. HRSA is currently funding telehealth projects that bring specialty care to 231 rural and underserved communities in 48 different clinical areas. This initiative has resulted in innovative applications, such as E-emergency care, as well as advances in-home monitoring. Telehealth technology also improves access to and the coordination of mental health services in rural areas, where psychiatrists and psychologists are often scarce.”

Wolters explained, “The complex regulatory environment also affects our physicians. While recruiting physicians to rural areas is a longstanding problem, the complex environment of implementing electronic health records, ICD-10 and various quality reporting programs means most physicians are unwilling to practice in rural areas unless a hospital is willing to manage their practice and ensure income stability.”

Henderson identified the importance of telehealth in rural Mississippi in her testimony. Last fall, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) Center for Telehealth developed a research pilot with the ambitious goal of managing 200 uncontrolled diabetics through aggressive in home monitoring and intervention. The centerpiece of the partnership is a population based health care model that leverages telehealth technology delivered over state-of-the-art fixed and mobile broadband connections. Its goal is to improve the health of participants while reducing the total cost of care. Henderson stated, “Of the 93 patients currently enrolled in the pilot, all report that their disease is under control for the first time and that they have lost weight and are feeling better.” The program has cut ER staffing costs by 25 percent, reduced unnecessary transfers by 20 percent “and has produced patient outcomes in rural hospitals that are on par with that of our academic medical center,” Henderson said.

Mississippi’s state government removed barriers and enabled expansion of telemedicine services, Henderson added.  Legislation enacted in 2013 mandates that public and private insurers reimburse for telehealth services at the same rates as in-person services. More legislation signed in 2014 requires equal reimbursement for remote patient monitoring services using store-and-forward telemedicine technology. Still, other barriers of telemedicine services remain Henderson explained. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continues to restrict telehealth reimbursement to patients being treated in a Rural Health Professional Shortage Area or in a county that is not considered part of a Metropolitan Statistical Area. Henderson explained, “Many urban areas also are medically underserved and would benefit greatly from access to telehealth. I would request that CMS consider removing geographic restrictions for telehealth reimbursement.”

“Reimbursement parity for telehealth services works at the state level, and it is time to bring parity to the federal level,” Henderson told senators. “The only way to know if success at the state level can be replicated at the federal level is to test it. Now is the time for CMS to pilot reimbursement parity models for these technologies, especially in-home monitoring, where impact is greatest.”

The hearing provided Senators and rural health advocates the opportunity to identify successful federal programs that should receive support from appropriators because of their focus on rural health initiatives and also acknowledged the gaps that still remain, especially those delivered through telehealth, in supporting the delivery of health care in rural communities.




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