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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

Rural Add-On Bill Introduced in Senate

February 16, 2017 07:35 AM

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a good friend of home care and hospice, has introduced a bill to the United States Senate make permanent the three percent add-on for home health services delivered to residents of rural areas.

The bill, S.353, will likely be known as the Preserve Access to Medicare Rural Home Health Services Act and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Collins, who introduced the bill after hours of advocacy work on Capitol Hill by NAHC staffers, has already picked up a bipartisan co-sponsor, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

In late 2000, as part of the Benefits Improvement and Protection Act (BIPA), Congress enacted a 10 percent add-on for home health services delivered in rural areas between April 2001 and April 2003. On April 1, 2003, the payment add-on expired. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 reinstated the rural payment improvement at five percent for a period of one year (April 1, 2004, through March 31, 2005). In February 2006, as part of S. 1932, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (PL 109 - 171), a one-year (calendar year 2006) five percent rural add-on for home health services delivered in rural areas was signed into law. The rural add-on expired on December 31, 2006.

In 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590; P.L. 111-148) reinstated a three percent 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. The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R.2; Pub Law No: 114-10) included a provision extending the rural add on through the end of 2017. The Preserve Access to Medicare Rural Home Health Services Act of 2017 (S.353) would make permanent the rural add on.

The rural add-on is critical for a number of reasons. Firstly, 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.

Secondly, 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 (PPS).

Thirdly, 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.

Fourth, agencies in rural areas frequently are smaller than their urban counterparts, which means 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.

Furthermore, rural agencies have less access to capital needed to invest in efficient and time-saving technologies, have lower profit margins than urban agencies, and must provide more care to many patients because home health agencies are often the primary caregivers for homebound beneficiaries with limited access to transportation.

The rural add-on is a critical issue for many home care agencies and thus is very important to us at NAHC. We will continue to advocate tirelessly on this issue and will keep our membership informed of all developments.




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