Representatives Introduce Legislation to Improve Rural Hospice Care
July 27, 2016 12:03 PM
U.S. Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Ron Kind (D-WI) recently introduced legislation to improve access to hospice care in rural areas. The Rural Access to Hospice Act (H.R. 5799) allows rural health clinics (RHCs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to receive Medicare payment for physicians’ services in hospice care. Companion legislation was introduced earlier this year in the U.S. Senate by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) as S. 2786.
In introducing the legislation earlier this year, the Senators spoke about its importance. “People in the final stages of life should have access to the compassionate care that hospice provides regardless of where they live. As someone who cared for aging parents and experienced firsthand what it is like to have a family member receive hospice care, I am committed to making sure this critical service is available in our rural communities. In West Virginia, this legislation will help ensure that patients and their loved ones have access to the peace, comfort and dignity hospice care provides,” said Senator Capito.
“This bipartisan bill improves access to hospice care for seniors in rural areas of the country, particularly in New Hampshire,”said Senator Shaheen. “This is a common sense proposal that will help patients and their families get hospice care and the peace of mind that comes with choosing their own doctor.”
Currently, RHCs and FQHCs cannot bill or be reimbursed for attending physician services to hospice patients. This legislation provides a technical fix to allow physicians employed by RHCs and FQHCs to provide attending physician services and permit the RHC or FQHC to bill Medicare for those services.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has long supported efforts to address the disincentives for RHC and FQHC physicians to provide attending physician services to hospice patients, and other policy changes that would help to support the delivery of high quality, individualized hospice care in rural and remote areas of the U.S.
NAHC Report will continue to provide updates regarding the status of this legislation.