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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

Legislation Introduced to Preserve Rural Home Health Services

Senate bill would extend the 3 percent payment differential for Medicare home health services delivered in rural areas for another five years
December 18, 2015 10:43 AM

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have introduced legislation (S. 2389) to extend the rural add-on for Medicare home health services delivered in rural areas, which is currently set to expire at the end of 2017.

In a Congressional Record statement, Senator Collins explained that she introduced the bill to ensure Medicare patients in rural areas continue to receive the home health services they need. “Failure to extend the rural add-on payment would only put more pressure on rural home health agencies that are already operating on very narrow margins and could force some of the agencies to close their doors altogether,” Senator Collins said. “If any of these agencies were forced to close, the Medicare patients in that region could lose all of their access to home care.”

The Affordable Care Act in 2010 reinstated a 3 percent Medicare payment add-on for home health services delivered to residents of rural areas. Under the legislation the rural add-on payment became effective for visits ending on or after April 1, 2010, and before January 1, 2016. Subsequently, Congress passed legislation earlier this year repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which included a two-year extension of the rural add-on through the end of 2017.

NAHC strongly believes that Congress should pass S. 2389 extending the 3 percent payment differential for home health services delivered in rural areas for another five years. NAHC, in its 2015 Legislative Blueprint for Action distributed to Congressional offices, asserted that extending the rural add-on is necessary for the following primary reasons:

Cut in Reimbursement Will Result in Service Area Reductions
The loss of the rural add-on will likely result in reductions in service areas and some agencies may have to turn away high resource use patients in rural areas. Access to care is a critical issue in rural America. Before the rural add-on was reinstated in 2010, some agencies reported that they had to eliminate delivery of services to remote areas. For example, some agencies in Maine had to eliminate delivery of services to outlying islands.

Workforce Shortages and Competitive Wages
Rural agencies have greater difficulty hiring or contracting with therapists, and frequently must use nurses instead of therapists to provide rehabilitative services, which could affect a patient’s rehabilitation progress. Additionally, when an agency does not use a physical therapist for therapy services, it cannot qualify for the higher therapy rates allowed by the prospective payment system.

Home health agencies have difficulty competing with hospitals to hire staff because they are unable to afford the wages, benefits, and large signing bonuses that hospitals offer. Further, home health agencies are not eligible for reclassification of their wage index–an option available only to hospitals. This problem can be even greater for rural agencies in cases where their rural hospital counterparts are eligible to become critical access hospitals or sole community providers, which afford them the opportunity for greater reimbursement.

Despite this, rural home health agencies must offer competitive wages for care workers that are comparable to wages paid in urban areas because of the nationwide nursing and staffing shortages. In certain frontier states, graduating nurses leave the state seeking better wages, thus compounding the workforce shortage.

Costs Often Higher Than for Their Urban Counterparts

Agencies in rural areas frequently are smaller than their urban counterparts, meaning that costs are higher due to smaller scale operations. Smaller agencies with fewer patients and fewer visits means that fixed costs, particularly those associated with meeting regulatory requirements, are spread over a smaller number of patients and visits, increasing overall per-patient and per-visit costs. Smaller agencies have less likelihood of maintaining a high patient volume–which means they have less access to a varied case-mix.

There are not always enough marginally profitable cases to offset the resource-intensive, expensive cases. Outlier payments are not sufficient to cover these costs. A small agency’s census of patients is often inconsistent, which makes it difficult to retain consistent full-time staff.

In many rural areas, home health agencies can be the primary caregivers for homebound beneficiaries with limited access to transportation. This means that rural patients often require more resources than their urban counterparts, and are more expensive for agencies to serve. The cost of a nursing visit is considerably higher in rural areas than in urban areas. In the rural areas of Maine, for example, nursing visits are 37 percent more costly than in urban areas. Before the rural add-on was reinstated, agencies often had to make decisions to not accept certain patients because of limited resources, and access suffered.

Very Limited or No Access to Capital Resulting In Inability to Purchase Time-Saving Technology
Rural home health agencies often lack access to the capital needed to take advantage of time-saving technological advances that could increase efficiency, such as home monitoring devices. This problem is compounded by the fact that Medicare payment policy does not allow for reimbursement of such devices.

Rural Agencies Generally Have Lower Margins
Since MedPAC has been studying Medicare home health margins, it has consistently found that the profit margins of rural agencies were below those of urban agencies.

To encourage your Senators to cosponsor S. 2389, please use NAHC’s Legislative Action Center by clicking here.

Stay tuned to NAHC Report for more coverage of legislation to extend the rural add-on.




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