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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

Heath 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

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

Sen. Whitehouse Introduces Legislation Focused on Improving Care for Medicare Patients with Advanced Illnesses

July 1, 2016 11:00 AM

On June 23, 2016, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation that would improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with advanced illnesses. Sen. Whitehouse announced the legislation at a hearing of the Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). The Removing Barriers to Person-Centered Care Act (S. 3096) is relevant to both home health and hospice, and it contains priority provisions strongly supported by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). The legislation would set up a pilot program for which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would waive a number of current regulations: for example, eliminating the homebound requirement for Medicare patients to receive home health care services; allowing non-physician practitioners to certify patients for home health and hospice services and sign plans of care; and allowing Medicare patients to receive hospice care and curative treatment at the same time.

Sen. Whitehouse said the legislation would promote better coordination between health care providers and place greater emphasis on the preferences of Medicare beneficiaries with advanced illnesses. “Too many Rhode Island Medicare patients battling difficult illnesses are struggling to get the right care at the right time,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “We need to break down the barriers between patients and the care they need. Because so many of the rules and incentives in our health care system are tied to the payment structure, we should design payment systems that support new models of coordinated care that are focused on human beings and not some rule or regulation.”

Approximately 90 million Americans are living with advanced illness. Projections estimate that number is expected to more than double in the next 25 years. 

Following is a summary of the legislation released by Sen. Whitehouse’s office:

The CMS-administered pilot program would be made up of 20 “advanced care collaboratives” of affiliated health care providers and community-based social service organizations. Collaboratives would receive a planning grant to assess the needs of the population of patients it would serve; to purchase or upgrade health information technology to facilitate better coordination of care between providers; and to support education and training on documenting and communicating beneficiary treatment preferences and goals. 

Once planning is complete, collaboratives would enter a three-year payment agreement with Medicare to provide coordinated, high-quality care for their target patient population. Under the terms of the pilot program, CMS would waive regulations to promote innovative care for patients with advanced illness. Waivers would be granted to:

  •  Allow Medicare patients to receive hospice care and curative treatment at the same time. CMS’s current regulations force patients to choose one or the other for their terminal illness.
  • Allow patients to receive Medicare coverage in a skilled nursing home without a consecutive three-day inpatient hospital stay. Under current Medicare rules, patients are often charged for skilled nursing care after they leave an inpatient hospital stay because they were hospitalized for observation rather than admitted to the hospital.
  • Allow Medicare patients to receive home health services without the requirement that they be homebound. Under current rules, a patient’s condition must have progressed such that there “exists a normal inability to leave home,” denying these services to those who are seriously ill but still mobile.
  • Allow nurse practitioners to sign home health and hospice care plans and certify patients for services. Right now, only doctors can do so, even though nurse practitioners are often the ones overseeing the patient’s health care. This forms another barrier for patients seeking these services, especially in underserved and rural areas.

The bill would also create two new coverage options under Medicare’s hospice benefit, which is available for terminally-ill Medicare beneficiaries with a life prognosis of six months. Those options would:

  • Allow Medicare coverage of room and board at inpatient facilities for individuals who elect and are certified for routine hospice care, but whose home environment is not safe for home-based hospice care. Currently, Medicare does not pay for room and board at nursing facilities for individuals who elect routine-level hospice care. Dying patients whose home environment is not conducive to home-based care often opt to receive rehabilitative services to retain Medicare coverage of facility-based care, leading to patients receiving unnecessary and possibly harmful rehab.
  • Allow Medicare coverage for short-term, home-based respite care as an alternative to inpatient respite care for individuals who elect and are certified for routine hospice care. Providing patients and their caregivers the option to stay in their home for the receipt of respite care would alleviate the stress of transporting a dying patient to and from an inpatient facility.

Additional information about the legislation is available here. View Sen. Whitehouse’s remarks at the hearing of the Senate Aging Committee here.




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