NAHC Urges Speaker Ryan, Leader Pelosi to Defend Home Care and Hospice in Health Reform
March 16, 2017 02:54 PM
The National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has written a letter to Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to express concerns that the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), does not properly prioritize home care.
The letter begins by noting that 12 million people receive home care annually, the work of two million hard-working women and men. Many of those 12 million who use home care actually depend on it and are among the nation’s most vulnerable citizens – people who have given much to America and deserve now to be treated with respect and allowed to age gracefully and securely in their own homes.
The letter notes that through the last 35 years, whether the government was run by Democrats or Republicans or split between them, expanding access to quality home care was a priority for every administration and Congress. That history of bipartisan support “established a guiding principle for any health care or health care insurance reform – access to home care is essential. Home care is the bedrock of health care and it brings security and well-being to the nation.”
However, the letter notes there is still much progress to be made – under Medicaid, 24 states still spends more on institutional care than on home care.
Unfortunately, when reviewing the American Health Care Act, NAHC does not see intent to make access to home care a priority.
“For example, the bill eliminates an important Medicaid option, the Community First Choice benefit, which encourages states to shift spending to cost-effective home care” despite the fact that numerous states have embraced that new benefit. “Still, the failure of some states to offer a robust home care option is evident even with the financial incentives under the Community First Choice program. The current per capita caps formula will be a roadblock to the expansion of access to home care in Medicaid. The elimination of the Community First Choice program is, as well.”
Furthermore, the letter states that while most states offer hospice services to their Medicaid populations, this is still optional and “absent any requirement that states offer a meaningful end-of-life benefit, imposition of caps or other limits on funding for Medicaid services will create tremendous pressure on states, and will place existing coverage of hospice care at serious risk.”
For those reasons, NAHC would like the U.S. House of Representatives to take any and all necessary steps to ensure that whatever health reform legislation, if any, finally emerges, it will preserve and advance access to home care and hospice for the millions of Americans who currently receive it and the millions more who will want it in the future.
The letter is signed by NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris and you may read it in its entirety right here.