Washington Update: Outlook from the Nation’s Capital on Home Care and Hospice Issues
October 29, 2015 02:54 PM
On Wednesday, October 28, experts from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) at the Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, provided their perspective and the latest news from the nation’s capital affecting home care and hospice.
The latest news from Washington included developments in the leadership of the House of Representatives, as well as significant legislation affecting the nation’s fiscal situation. On Thursday House Republicans elected Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as Speaker of the House. He received 236 out of 245 votes from House Republicans. Colin Roskey, Counsel to NAHC said, after weeks of uncertainty regarding who would serve in the role following the resignation of Speaker John Boehner, the news that the House Republicans selected Congressman Ryan may indicate a more “unified approach” to governance moving forward.
Another significant development this week was that the House passed a budget agreement that increases the debt ceiling and raises caps on domestic and defense spending. The Senate will be next to consider the measure, likely holding a vote to limit debate on Friday.
NAHC’s panel of experts observed that, in taking these actions, Congress has reduced some uncertainty that previously hung over the heads of the home care and hospice community. The panel also reminded the audience of a significant action earlier this year, when Congress passed Medicare legislation that reforms the physician payment formula otherwise known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), while also extending the home health rural add-on.
William Dombi, Vice President for Law at NAHC, said in the recent past Congress’s time has been occupied with averting major threats and taking on significant reforms. He said, with these “big ticket” items now out of the way, “the opportunity that comes with that” is that some of home care and hospice’s priority issues might receive more consideration. In addition, he said there will be opportunities to find money to fund other types of improvements to the health care system such as keeping people at home.
Halamandaris noted the positive mood. “Every other year that we’ve been together, we’ve been telling you, this is the list of the threats that are coming at us. You’re not hearing that this year.”
“We need to be ready for anything,” Halamandaris said. “But at the same time, let’s set the table for what’s going to happen in 2016 and 2017 – end result to make home care and hospice the heart, soul and center of all health care in America.”