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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

NAHC, Caring Institute Host Event Continuing Mother Teresa's Centennial Celebration and Honoring Home Care and Hospice Caregivers

LCAO Chair: 'We've Got More Work to Do' to Protect Seniors, Medicare as Deficit Reduction Tops Congress' Concerns
December 1, 2010 01:00 AM


The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the Caring Institute's celebration of Mother Teresa's centennial year continued with an event yesterday that also marked the close of National Home Care and Hospice Month. "As we honor Mother Teresa -- the preeminent home care nurse -- in her centennial year, we honor all the caregivers who work in the field of hospice and home care, we honor our nurses, and we honor our advocates," said NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris.


The evening reception took place at the Frederick Douglass Museum, which is the great abolitionist's first Washington, D.C. house and is also home to the Caring Hall of Fame. It was attended by representatives from a number of member groups of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) including AARP, NAHC, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and Wider Opportunities for Women. Stalwart home care and hospice and seniors' issues advocate Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke to those who'd arrived at this dignified Capitol Hill location.

"They don't come any better than our dear, long-time friend Ron Wyden," Halamandaris said of the senator. Wyden's estimable advocacy for home care and hospice has included working to reduce cuts to Medicare home health payment in the health care reform effort (NAHC Report, 12/8/09) and to preserve the budget neutrality adjustment factor that provides a measure of stability in Medicare hospice payment (NAHC Report, 6/30/09). Wyden also paid tribute to home care and hospice caregivers this November, recognizing National Home Care and Hospice Month with a statement in the Congressional Record (NAHC Report, 11/22/10).

"You are on the right side of history; you're on the right side of justice," Wyden said. Speaking about the health care reform legislation enacted earlier this year, he noted that he'd worked to create the opportunity under that law for patients to receive concurrent hospice and curative treatments. He also pointed out, however, the divisiveness that was often the case as the complex health reform effort progressed, such as in suspicions the legislation would create "death panels" and would lead to government rationing of health care. Wyden called for continuing national dialogue on these issues.

"What I hope we can do is be part of a policy that is just the opposite of rationing -- that we can be behind a policy that does two things. One is to give older people, patients, and their families everywhere all of the options for end-of-life care and what will be their judgment about what is the best quality for them. Second is that we're not going to have the government calling all the shots," Wyden said. "Now, who embodies that kind of thinking better than anybody else on the planet? All of you," he asserted.

Barbara Kennelly, current chair of LCAO and president/CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, followed Wyden in addressing attendees of the event. "We're here to honor all of you and what you do in your advocacy to fight for seniors and the disability community," stated the NAHC President in welcoming her to the podium.


Kennelly noted that hospice is a relatively new health care service -- certainly in the public's consciousness -- and reinforced, as Wyden had, the need for greater understanding and continued discourse in this area. "We can remember when home care began, and now we have hospice. We're going to have to make sure that it's handled correctly; it's life and death," she contended.

She applauded the efforts of caregivers across the nation. "It's November 30th, and we end the month of home care, the month of hospice. We honor the caregivers and the family caregivers," Kennelly said, then discussed what's ahead in the wake of health care reform and given the need to reduce the budget deficit. "We celebrate tonight, but we've got our work cut out for us. We can hardly take a breath after health reform," Kennelly warned. "We don't even know what's going to happen over the next two years until the presidential election; we have to work so hard to protect the programs that we care about.

"In this budget season, the way the budget is right now, we're going to have to fight twice as hard to make sure that these programs are funded," she continued. "But you know what? This group is up to it."


Halamandaris called on Connie Garner, BSN, MSN, the health policy director for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, to receive an award honoring care and service to others in Mother Teresa's ongoing centennial celebration. In 2003 and over the course of the following years, Garner took the lead in development of Sen. Kennedy's Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, which creates a private insurance program for working Americans that would pay for needed home and community-based care and supports for participants who become disabled (NAHC Report, 10/22/09).


In the run-up to enactment of health care reform, Garner urged inclusion of the CLASS Act, which ultimately did come to pass (NAHC Report, 3/22/10). At a panel discussion last year to help educate the public about the CLASS Act, she said, "The intent is for people to be able to pay for care and assistive services that they need. We do have a suggested, but not all-inclusive, services list. Congress' intent is to give people the freedom to self-determine what their needs are -- to stay productive and have choices about what their lives are."

"History will record that the CLASS Act was as important -- or maybe more important -- than Medicare," Halamandaris contended. "Some of you may say that sounds like an exaggeration. No, it isn't; it's an understatement." The NAHC President pointed out that while the issue of the uninsured is certainly an urgent one, even greater is the problem of long-term care. "Only 1 percent of Americans can afford the costs of long-term care, the costs of managing a disability," he said. "All the major medical plans that we have do not cover chronic disease. It's a simple fact. So that's a problem to which all of America is exposed, all of America is at risk. The insurable events have changed, but the policies haven't. Something needs to be done about that," Halamandaris maintained, with a nod to Garner's years of work with Kennedy on the CLASS Act.

Regarding the legislation itself, Garner praised the way in which the CLASS Act was developed and modified over time, since it was a result of input from "real people in real neighborhoods" across the nation rather than "behind closed doors" among members of Congress. She also noted that the CLASS Act's long-term care insurance program and overall efforts to improve access to long-term care and supports are a work in progress.

"The reason why it's good is because it's making people think about what they don't want to have to think about. Whether it's the right answer or there's another answer remains to be seen," Garner maintained. "But this issue is a huge issue."

She recounted working with Kennedy on the legislation. "I remember in 2003 when we first designed it; I remember the night Senator Kennedy first came to me and we sat down and talked about it," Garner said. "We had a long conversation about how unfair it was in this country to have people who had worked their whole lives in farms, businesses, hospitals, and so on to have to be poor or significantly disabled in order to get access to what they needed. Medicaid did seem to be the only game in town when they needed long-term services and supports. We thought, 'What can we do to make it different?'"

The CLASS Act program would likely be implemented over a period of years and may change and evolve as that process unfolds, according to Garner, but she praised the efforts taking place on this issue. "It's been a fight all the way, but I think we're in good shape now," she said. "I think we'll continue to move forward."




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