Senators Rally Support for Legislation to Allow NPs and PAs to Certify Medicare Home Health Plans of Care
May 22, 2015 02:20 PM
Two leading members of the U.S. Senate are urging their colleagues to cosponsor bipartisan legislation endorsed by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) that would allow Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) to certify Medicare home health plans of care. U.S. Senators Susan M. Collins (R-ME) and Chuck E. Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to their Senate colleagues this week encouraging them to cosponsor the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2015 (S. 578), which they introduced earlier this year.
“We are writing to urge you to join us as cosponsors of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2015 (S. 578) to ensure that our senior and disabled citizens have timely access to home health services under the Medicare Program,” Senator Collins and Schumer said to their colleagues in the letter.
S.578 would allow NPs, PAs, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives to order home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Currently, these clinicians are authorized to perform many services for Medicare beneficiaries, including ordering nursing home care and prescribing medicine. However, they are unable to order less costly and less intrusive home health care services.
NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris has praised the legislation. “Studies have shown that the expanded use of these professionals can result in dramatic decreases in expensive hospitalizations and nursing home stays,” he said.
Non-physician health professionals are playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of our nation’s health care, especially in rural and underserved areas. However, as a result of this burdensome restriction, those who use non-physician medical professionals as their primary care providers often face the burden of an additional office visit with an unknown physician in order to receive home health care.
According to a separate letter supporting the legislation from the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations to the senators, “outside experts assessed the impact of the bill earlier last 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.”
Currently 23 senators have cosponsored the bill. For the current list of cosponsors, please click here. If one or both of your senators have not yet cosponsored the bill, please encourage them to do so by using NAHC’s Legislative Action Center