Home Health and Hospice Legislative Update
August 9, 2017 01:22 PM
With the Senate wrapping up their legislative session, they have officially joined the House of Representatives in the annual August recess. While on this recess, many federal legislators return home to those they represent. This is a great opportunity to meet with them and advocate for home care and hospice. It is also the perfect time to invite them out for a home care visit. (That link will show you how to do it!) These visits have proven time and again to be incredibly effective in driving awareness of our industry and helping lawmakers come to understand the plight home care and hospice patients and workers face daily. This almost invariably leads to these lawmakers supporting our causes, as well as good publicity for the home care or hospice agency in the local media.
As has been heavily reported on, Congress went into this extended recess without reaching a consensus on reforming our healthcare system. In putting a full seven months of work into these efforts, the vast majority of other healthcare related issues have been pushed aside. With reform talks now on ice, Lawmakers will be looking to push for their priorities to be brought up for a vote. We want to ensure our issues are included in those priorities. A quick review of our priorities:
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 445/H.R. 1825)
Cosponsors: 37 Senators, 114 Representatives
The Home Health Documentation and Program Improvement Act (H.R. 2663)
Cosponsors: 21 Representatives
Preserve Access to Medicare Rural Home Health Services Act (S.353)
Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (S. 693/H.R. 1676)
Cosponsors: 9 Senators, 160 Representatives
Patient Choice and Quality Care Act (S. 1334/H.R. 2797)
Cosponsors: 5 Senators, 11 Representatives
Once Congress resumes in September we suspect the Home Health Documentation and Program Improvement Act (better known as Face to Face/Physician documentation certification legislation) to be introduced in the Senate. Likewise, we anticipate the Preserve Access to Medicare Rural Home Health Services Act (better known as the rural add-on) to be introduced in the House of Representatives. As for hospice, the Palliative Care and hospice Education and Training Act stands a good chance at being “marked-up” in the fall. This is an important and necessary step in the legislative process where the legislative language will be reviewed by the committee with jurisdiction over the matter.
Over the next month we encourage you to contact your congressional representation and request that they support home care and hospice. Many legislators will hold town halls, appear at county fairs, and hold “Coffee with your Congressman.” These are all ideal opportunities to get face time with a member of Congress. If you’re not able to make it to these events, calls and personal messages are great alternatives. In addition, we strongly encourage everyone to make use of the NAHC Legislative Action Center, which is a simple and easy way to send a message of support for home care and hospice to your specific elected representatives.