NAHC Meets with Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group to Discuss Recommendations
September 25, 2015 11:07 AM
The Senate Finance Committee invited the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) to meet with staff on Wednesday, September 23, to discuss recommendations NAHC submitted to the Committee’s chronic care working group earlier this year. In June 2015, the Senate Finance Committee announced the creation of a bipartisan chronic care working group, which is led by Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) (see previous NAHC Report article here). The working group is seeking recommendations from health care stakeholders in order to assess current law and develop policy and legislative proposals to improve chronic care. NAHC has submitted recommendations to the Senate Finance Committee chronic care working group on better integrating home health and hospice to achieve superior outcomes in chronic care management.
Summary of NAHC’s Recommendations
NAHC’s recommendations were included in a letter to the Committee from NAHC Board Chairman Denise Schrader and President Val J. Halamandaris. “With chronic disease now accounting for almost 93 percent of Medicare spending, we agree that the impact of chronic disease on the Medicare program and those it serves is staggering and must be addressed with better chronic disease management,” NAHC stated in the letter. In order to improve chronic care services, NAHC recommended a “broad and appropriate” role for home health services that encompasses not only post-acute care but also pre-acute care.
NAHC provided specific proposals to achieve evidence-based reform, including a Home-based Chronic Care Management Model. This patient-centered model is a partnership between home health agencies and patient-centered medical homes, in which the home health agency shares responsibility for patient outcomes with the primary care provider. The model has successfully reduced hospitalizations and increased patient satisfaction across the country. For example, Sutter Health in California using the model achieved a 50 percent reduction in hospitalizations and saved Medicare $118 million over a three year period. NAHC also recommended that the Committee: 1) monitor innovative programs being tested, including the Independence at Home Demonstration and the Community-based Care Transitions Program; and 2) improve care coordination for chronically ill patients as outlined in the Fostering Independence Through Technology Act of 2013 and the modernization of the Medicare home health benefit through the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2015 (S. 578), which would permit nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants to certify Medicare home health plans of care.
In addition, NAHC recommended that the Committee integrate hospice care into its analysis. Hospice care provides a “highly valuable option” that those dealing with chronic illness should be able to consider. Specifically, NAHC endorsed the Care Planning Act of 2015 (S. 1549), which is sponsored and cosponsored by Chronic Care Working Group co-chairs Senators Warner and Isakson.
In making its recommendations, NAHC explained how home health and hospice can help the working group achieve its stated goals: 1) increase care coordination among individual providers across care settings who are treating patients living with chronic diseases; 2) streamline Medicare’s current payment systems to incentivize the appropriate level of care for patients living with chronic diseases; and 3) facilitate the delivery of high quality care, improve care transitions, produce stronger patient outcomes, increase program efficiency, and contribute to an overall effort that will reduce the growth in Medicare spending.
NAHC will continue to provide updates on the actions of the Senate Finance Committee’s chronic care working group.
The full letter containing NAHC’s recommendations is available here.